Bingo as a defense strategy
In militant circles, Bingo is used as a collective defence strategy (e.g. anti-racist1 andfeminist2 bingos). The grid form is inspired by traditional Bingo, and is used to list systemic racist, sexist, transphobic, sizeist, ableist, etc., phrases, which constitute real aggressions for the person who endures them. The point is to use these bingos in a hostile context (faced with a racist uncle at a family dinner, in work meeting with a transphobic boss, etc.) and to be in a position to identify systemic phrases spoken by others. Bingos thus help to highlight problematic language that is so often integrated or internalised as commonplace.
These systemic attacks insidiously infiltrate language and are spread, even involuntarily, by people who have not yet undergone a process of deconstructing their privileges. These attacks take the form of repeated phrases spoken by different people. These people can often leave us voiceless.
Bingos help open a conversation with the person who uses this language, and perhaps even begin a process of deconstruction. But they can also be used as a support tool when our allies3 find themselves in a hostile situation. Simply shout “Bingo!” or to click your fingers when you hear a systemic phrase to alert allies to problematic language and thus create underground support or response networks in the face of such aggressions.
Bingo as a pedagogical tool
As part of the program, Teaching to Transgress Toolbox4, the Language as a Virus working group took up this tool in order to create bingos as both a weapon and a defence strategy:
* The “Decolonize Art Schools” bingo for the systemic racist phrases regularly used in art schools during evaluation, lessons, etc.
(cf. Decolonise the Arts).
This language, used principally by white people who have not deconstructed their curriculum, engenders systemic discrimination of POC, who are still minorities in art schools.
* The “I don’t like inclusive literature” bingo for systematic phrases against inclusive, non-binary, and gender fucker language, as well as such non-binary typography. Whilst French is particularly gendered towards the hegemonic masculine neutral, inclusive literature, non-binary typography and gender fucker language alternatives are often-criticised, censured and even banned.
Whether it be online or IRL, having a comeback is an indispensable prowess for surviving a hostile world. It can be tedious to launch into long abstract pedagogical explanations when faced with systemic language, without having references or media at hand. Our bingos can be a playful aid, a tool that provides both short, ironic and incisive responses, as well as more pedagogical arguments for those who need it. These two levels of response become efficient and well-constructed counter-arguments in order to sensitize and teach others. Of course, it is still necessary to have a willing partner.
Since all attacks cannot be deconstructed in these two bingos, we invite you to make your own!
How to make your own bingo?
Identify commonplace and problematic systemic language
List them on a grid
For each of the phrases, try to find a playful comeback (incisive response).
If you can, try to formulate a more in-depth response that allows you to engage in conversation with people who are worth the effort (pedagogical response).
Put all of this into the grid and share it with your allies!
Now you’re ready for the next family dinner or work meeting where racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, sizeist, ableist etc., language is still unfortunately so present.
Thanks to your pocket bingo, you’re ready to pull out your comebacks.
The history of our bingos
It all began in 2019, during a workshop in Chalon, France, when Elsa Abderhamani first presented the anti-racist bingo to Chloé Elvezi and ReussMaureen Leprêtre. Arriving on the scene like a fantastic piece of armour, this bingo helps you protect yourself in situations or social gatherings where discrimination hits you like a rusty shuriken.
A few months later, the Teaching To Transgress Toolbox began in January 2020 with a workshop in Brussels. Tiphaine Kazi-Tani and Camille·Circlude·Caroline·Dath took part in a working group, Language as a Virus, a name our group then retained. During this working group, we created a mash-up/deconstruction exercise. We mastered this method that allows a multiplicity of textual experiments, such as critical analysis of texts, collective writing and precise information extraction.
During numerous online meetings, Language as a Virus approached questions around language, inclusive literature and non-binary written and oral forms in the style of the Bye Bye Binary4collective. We discussed this linguistic evolution, and tried to find methods and tools to disseminate and transmit our reflections on this subject.
One goal of the TTTToolbox program was to create pedagogical tools that were transmissible to others (teachers, students, administrators….) to facilitate the deconstruction of gender, class, race, disability etc., stereotypes… found in art school pedagogy.
We considered many formats, such as podcasts, videos, tutorials, rewritings, among others. Among them was the bingo. We found this tool interesting for a number of reasons, but it also had its weaknesses, such as listing attacks without proposing responses.
Two years after our first encounter with anti-racist and feminist bingos, in the framework of the Critical Pedagogy in Art Schools (Pédagogie Critiques en Écoles d’Art6, organised by the Villa Arson in December 2020), the Language as a Virus group, joined by Enz@ Le Garrec, proposed a collective writing workshop around two new bingos that, after several months of work, are finally seeing the light.
4. TTToolbox: Teaching To Transgress Toolbox(the title was inspired by bell hooks'Teaching to Transgress : Education as the Practice of Freedom.) is a non-credit collective research and study program around critical pedagogy using artistic tools based on peer learning and collective research. The whole project took place over two years (2019-2021). The study program was structured in four one-week workshops in 2020 and was developed in collaboration with three European art schools, erg in Brussels, HDK/Valand in Göteborg, and ISBA in Besançon. It was funded by a grant from a strategic partner, Erasmus+..
**The term "white people" refers sociologically to privileged people who are not subjected to racist discrimination or labels because of their supposed origins or the colour of their skin. Inversely, the sociological term “people of colour” refers to all people subject to discrimination or labels because of their supposed origins or the colour of their skin. These terms come from decolonial studies, intersectional theories and activist circles.
* The asterisk is used at the end of “trans* person” in transfeminist activist circles and LGBTI as a sign that can be replaced by any suffix.
Download and print the Bingos here:
Decolonise art schools “I don’t like inclusive writing”
English, A4 format, black and white
Grammaire du français inclusif, Châteauroux, France, éditions Vent Solars, 2018.
AVOGADRO, Mathilde et CONNOR, Élise.
« GOOD 4 A GIRL - Questionnaire », Show, [Revue], n°2, Cergy, France, 2020.
COMBAHEE RIVER COLLECTIVE.
« The Combahee River Collective Statement », in Zillah Eisenstein (dir.), Capitalist Patriarchy and the Case for Socialist Feminism, New York, Monthly Review Press, 1979.
Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory, and Antiracist Politics, University of Chicago Legal Forum, 1989.
Écriture inclusive : « En français, la langue reste attachée au phallus »,
[En ligne], Bibliobs. Disponible sur BibliObs (consulté le 29 avril 2021).
Mes bien chères sœurs, Paris, France, éditions Seuil, 2019.
« La conscience ou l’art de se faire un film », La conversation scientifique, [Podcast], France Culture, 2020.
« Citizen », Emigre, [Magazine], n°15, Californie, États-Unis, 1990.
RABATEL, Alain et ROSIER, Laurence (dir.).
« Les défis de l’écriture inclusive », Le discours et la langue, n°11, Paris, France, éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme, 2019.
Pendant la lecture, trad. du néerlandais par André Verkeren, Paris, France, éditions B42, 2015.
Non, le masculin ne l’emporte pas sur le féminin !, Donnemarie-Dontilly, France, Éditions IXe, 2014.
Le langage inclusif : pourquoi, comment. Petit précis historique et pratique. Donnemarie-Dontilly, France, édition IXe, 2018.
VÉRON Laélia. « Du vent dans les synapses », Le français, une langue bien vivante, [Podcast], France Inter, 20 juin 2020.
[En ligne], Disponible sur France Inter (consulté le 29 mai 2021).
Those who took part in the creation of the bingos, from near and far:
Elsa Abderhamani, Nino André, Céline Chazalviel, Camille·Circlude·Caroline·Dath, Solène Collin, Chloé Elvezi, Enz@ Le Garrec, Reuss Maureen Leprêtre, Martha Salimbeni, Chloé Stevenoot, Daphné Targotay
Writing, editing, graphic design
— Baskervvol BBB
— DINdong, Clara Sambot, 2020
— VG5001, Justin Bihan