Name Five

Kellie Carter Jackson, a Harvard College Fellow, created the game “Name Five” for her AAAS118 class. In the beginning of the class, she goes around the room and asks students to list five notable people of different ethnicities to help students understand the world and the power dynamics within it.

The instructor stepped in front of the class and explained the rules of the game in the beginning of class. She told her students to pull out a scrap of paper and a pen, and to spend 30 seconds listing five notable people dead or alive. She started the students off to begin naming five notable African Americans, and then she went on to telling them to list five notable Latino Americans, followed by Asian Americans, then Native Americans, and finally disabled Americans, all at 30 seconds each. Once all five categories have been listed, they go through their lists and they discuss which categories were most difficult.

At the end of the activity, some students were frustrated. They asked themselves, “Why can’t I name five people?” “Why did I list mostly men?” “Why was this a struggle?” This activity thus helped students understand the world and the power dynamics within it. The instructor helped show how the world has been presented to them and how routinely marginalized groups remain at the periphery of the American story. She explained the danger of the “single story” and then discussed that by the end of the class, the students would be able to name five and then some.

This game was incredibly versatile, for it can be applied in various settings. In her film course, she had the students list five Black actors, Latino actors, Asian actors, Native American actors, etc., but people could customize the activity with authors, LGBTQ leaders, etc. The point of this activity was to show how marginalized people often have to struggle for inclusion, for a voice, and for a seat at the table.