CNN dubbed 2020 “The Year America Confronted Racism.” In the midst of a raging pandemic, we witnessed horrific acts of racism… and renewed calls for social justice. As teachers, we have a responsibility to be a part of these efforts to both tackle racism head on and “move the needle.” And we’re in a great position to do so. But how? Conversations confronting anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, white supremacy, and the like, are challenging in a school setting. That’s why we were so gratified to find these free lessons around the theme of narratives. We pulled out our top five (although all 14 are excellent) lesson plans for creating inclusive communities.
Countering Racialization and Racism
This lesson asks students to consider race as a social construct. They’ll examine racialization in the 19th and 20th centuries, specifically how groups in power created ways to distinguish themselves from others (by inventing racial groups and assigning them negative attributes) in order to exploit and discriminate against other people.
Dominant Narratives in Education
In an era of fake news, it’s more important than ever to teach students how to look critically at reading material. Too often, textbooks are presented as the be all end all, but we know they’re imperfect (and even sometimes insidious). In this lesson, students look at the political and economic forces that shape textbook representations and the consequences of dominant textbook narratives about ethnic groups.
Manifestations of Racism: Interpersonal Racism
Many students (and many adults) have this idea that racism exists only as extreme acts of violence or discrimination. This lesson introduces the idea of interpersonal racism, or racism that occurs between individuals. And this type of racism often takes the form of covert (as opposed to overt) racism. Time to take long hard look at microaggressions and the like.
Introducing Counter Narratives: Panels of Speakers
Counter narratives are messages that challenge dominant narratives, and what better way to get one than with a live panel? In this lesson, a panel of guest speakers from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds highlight the voices and lived experiences of people whose stories have often been sidelined or marginalized. Find out how to schedule an Intercultural Speakers Bureau Panel for your class.
Responding to Racism: Individual Action
As important as educating student about the history and impact of racism in this country is empowering them to do something about it. Strategies covered in this lesson include recognizing one’s own privilege, amplifying marginalized voices, engaging in difficult conversations about race and racism in home, at school, and with friends, and joining in protests and other large-scale activities.
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