Discussing Race & Racism with Students
June 2, 2020 by
Over the past week, we have witnessed an outpouring of grief and rage that reminds us—again—that democracy is always in the making and that we have a responsibility both to reflect and to act. As civic educators, we naturally turn our attention to what we can do, and what we can teach, that might further advance dialogues about freedom, equality, and justice. We hope that through our resources and the resources of others, and through discussions with teachers, we can help you have rich, meaningful dialogue with students about these complex issues.
To that end, this week we will offer three blog posts to help you grapple with the fundamental questions and challenges posed by recent events. The first, this post, provides resources and ideas for discussing race and racism with students. Wednesday’s post will explore the protests and the government responses to those protests. Thursday’s post will investigate the roots of the issues to which the protests are calling attention.
Hopefully, the resources we share here help you and your students, but we also want to hear from you. What resources, lessons, questions, and ideas do you turn to when trying to help students better understand the important issues raised by the protesting?
To discuss race and racism:
- The National Museum of African American History and Culture has created a resource called Talking About Race. The conversation guides and reflection questions help individuals think about and discuss race.
- Teaching Tolerance offers Strategies for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Prejudice. These strategies help teachers think about the goals of discussions about race and prejudice, as well as reflect on their own positions and experiences.
- Black Lives Matter at School has created and curated a wide range of resources to help teachers and students investigate issues relating to race and racism in America today.
- In a short article published in ASCD, Dena Simmons explains How to be an Anti-Racist Educator.
To discuss race and racism in U.S. history:
- Teen Vogue’s OG History series is intended to “unearth history not told through a white” lens.
- Facing History and Ourselves has created many resources for discussing race and racism in the present day and in history. A very useful resource for this moment is Violence and Backlash during the Reconstruction Era.
- The Zinn Education Project aims to bring ideas from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States into classrooms. It offers many resources that explore race, prejudice, and social protest in U.S. history. A few resources that might be useful right now are:
- Burning Tulsa: The Legacy of Black Dispossession
- COINTELPRO: Teaching the FBI’s War on the Black Freedom Movement
- How Red Lines Built White Wealth: A Lesson on Housing Segregation in the 20th Century
- The University of Minnesota’s Mapping Prejudice project offers resources to help you visualize the histories of race and privilege in urban spaces.
Featured Image Credit: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket