Dare to be grey

“Our mission is to give a new narrative, the grey narrative”, says Edwin Van de Scheur, Co-founder of Dare to be Grey.

In 2016 a group of 21 International relations master students from Utrecht university won the first prize in Washington D.C. for the anti-extremism social media campaign Dare to be Grey. The competition was hosted by Facebook and the US department of state. The goal of the campaign was to create an online social media campaign counteracts extremisms and polarisation through promoting dialogue and debate in which there is a room for nuanced opinions and diverse voices.

Students help making the city more inclusive

At that time Utrecht was the first and the only university that participated in the competition. For Utrecht, this is a perfect example of citizens and students who come up with bright initiatives making the city more inclusive. Healthy urban living for everyone means that in these times of diversity, we need to seek different ways to stay connected with each other.

Back then in 2016 many events were epidemic in the political and social scene such as The Paris attacks, ISIS and the refugee crisis. Instead of focusing merely on extremism, the focus of the Dare to be Grey campaign has switched to polarisation aiming to spread awareness about the danger of how US vs Them thinking can divide our societies through simple white and black thinking. Van de Scheur: “I think what worried us the most was not only the attacks themselves as much as the way western society was responding to them. They were doing exactly what extremism is about, the us vs. them narrative”.

The ambition of Dare to be Grey campaign

Dare to Be Grey platform aims to raise awareness on the danger of black and white thinking. Through black and white thinking people stop listening to each other's opinions. They do think that their story is the truth, without taking into consideration other's perspectives. As a result, the society splits into Us vs Them.

In fact, the attention that is given to us vs them thinking through the dynamics of media, politics and the public is huge. In answer to this, Dare to be Grey offers a platform that accommodate a room for the 'grey' perspectives and opinions that allow people to think and act beyond white and black thinking. The platform sheds the light on stories that breaks negative stereotypes or initiatives that builds bridges and bring communities together. The five core values of the grey narrative are: Diversity, Debate, Empathy, Nuance and Doubt.

The international perspective of Dare to Be Grey

April 2019, the 2 co-founders Edwin Van de Scheur & Jordy Nijenhuis have launched the international platform of Dare to be Grey based on the belief that polarization is not only a local problem, but it is happening everywhere. After 3 years of working locally, Dare to be Grey focuses now on inspiring several partner organizations in Europe and elsewhere. The first international cooperation of Dare to be Grey is with the magazine AreWeEurope.

After the competition has ended, 2 students (Edwin Van de Scheur & Jordy Nijenhuis) out of the 21 students decided to continue working on Dare to be Grey platform.

Written by Raneem Salama

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