Category Archives: Anti-Racism

Why We Should Use the Term “Indigenous”

For this week’s anti-racist post, I want to share a Tweet from @HollyClarkEdu. It contains a TikTok video from @forwardlight, and explains not only the reasons that she prefers the term “Indigenous” to “Indian” or “Native American,” but also why she rejects the “Navajo” name for her tribe. I did a bit of research on the web regarding the meaning of “Navajo,” and there seems to be some disagreement. This site defines it as an adaptation of a Pueblo word that means, “farm fields in the valley” while other sites declare that the term referred to “knife” or “thief.” Regardless, I think that it is important to use the language that people prefer, so this short video is a valuable lesson.

I will be linking to this in my Wakelet that includes all of my weekly anti-racist posts. Please share so we can educate others!

Weird Enough Productions

Tony Weaver Jr. is a hero. I don’t use that term lightly. In fact, I hesitate to use it at all. But when I started doing research on a Tweet from @ProjectFoundEd about this man, I discovered more and more reasons to admire him. In this 2020 world of self-serving politicians and celebrities, Tony Weaver Jr. is the humble, talented, and empathetic champion we need.

Every week, I write an anti-racist post, but Tony Weaver Jr. is one of the many Blacks in our country who dedicates his life to anti-racism. Though his activism stemmed from personal experiences, he explains in this TEDx talk, “Why the World Needs Superheroes Who Look Different,” how other young people were his true motivation. In the CNN video that first led me to seek out more information about him, Weaver expresses such honest emotion about his passion for his work that you know his dedication will never waver.

Weaver is the young entrepreneur who started a company called Weird Enough Productions. “We tell stories that inspire people to embrace their quirks, and get hype about being themselves,” it states on the “About” page. Weird Enough Productions is responsible for a project called, “Get Media L.I.T.” which provides a platform for teachers and students (age 12 an up) where they can use comics and lesson plans to learn about social-emotional topics, media literacy, and digital citizenships. The comics feature a group of young people called “The Uncommons,” who are a diverse cast of characters designed to be representative of the many faces in our population. When you sign up for Media L.I.T. as a teacher, you will have a dashboard to which you can add classes, make playlists of the comics, and push out assignments. Each lesson is either categorized as, “Learn, Inquire, or Transform.” This tutorial for getting started is very helpful.

Get Media L.I.T. is exactly the type of material that will appeal to young people – relevant and visually intriguing. It is a great way to teach students about topics that are not generally covered in the curriculum, and to expose them to fictional heroes who look like them. In addition, the “Transform” lessons offer ideas for how the students can apply what they have learned to make the world a better place.

I will be adding this post to my list of Anti-Racism posts on Wakelet. Please consider sharing it with others, especially those who have the power to make a difference in the classroom. You can learn more about Tony Weaver, Jr. here.

screenshot of Tony Weaver Jr. from “Why the World Needs Superheroes Who Look Different”

Native American Heritage Month

In last week’s anti-racist post, I spoke about how the company Analytic Orange is revolutionizing history curriculum by ensuring multiple perspectives are included in its materials. One example is the materials for 4th grade classes in Utah that they have created to teach about the Navajo culture. During the month of November, 2020, which has been declared Native American Heritage Month in the United States, I think that it is important to acknowledge the work that we need to do to correct the over-generalizations and stereotypes regarding Native Americans that have been the norm in classrooms throughout the years, especially when we approach the holiday of Thanksgiving.

One of my good friends shared an excellent resource from PBS to use in the classroom to teach about the Wampanoag tribe, which interacted with the Pilgrims. It was the first link I added to my Thanksgiving Wakelet for this year because I felt it was so important to include the “real story” about the first Thanksgiving. We also need to educate our children about different tribes and their unique cultures, instead of perpetuating the beliefs that all Native Americans lived in teepees, wore headdresses, and were, supposedly the other 364 days of the year, warmongers.

Wyoming PBS has produced materials for that state’s students to learn more about the two tribes that reside there – the Shoshone and the Arapaho – in a unit called, “Why Teach Native American History?” The short video on the page emphasizes the points that I made above regarding stereotypes.

Another place to start is, “Rethinking Native Stories in Classrooms,” by Debbie Reese. She recommends books to read that offer more realistic representations of Native Americans. She also advises that students should learn about specific tribes, and that we should talk about Native Americans in the present tense so we don’t imply that there are no longer Native Americans in our country.

For more resources, as well as a calendar of specific events that will be celebrated throughout the month, I encourage you to visit the Native American Heritage Month website. I would also like to invite you to look at this post written by my friend, Joelle Trayers, with excellent picture book suggestions for culturally sensitive Native American units. And, if you are looking for my past anti-racist posts, you can find them all linked on this Wakelet.

image of Wampanoag winter home replica shared by Brian Herzog on Flickr

Analytic Orange

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a former colleague of mine, Shari Markowitz, who is the Chief Product Officer at Analytic Orange. The company is on a mission to provide learning materials that are research-based and high interest to students with strong support for teachers. Their social studies curriculum, correlated to the standards, includes: lesson plans, digital presentations, and differentiation suggestions. Materials integrate beautiful graphics and multiple opportunities for formative and summative assessment.

Analytic Orange offers 4 main reasons that their curriculum stands out, but I am going to focus on two of them in this article: Civic Engagement and Diverse Perspectives.

Events over the last few years have demonstrated that young people in the United States have much to learn about civic engagement. With nationwide standardized testing emphasis primarily focused on math and reading, social studies is often swept aside. For many, this has resulted in apathy and/or susceptibility to misinformation. We sorely need a course correction in every sense of that phrase.

The determination of Analytic Orange to include Diverse Perspectives in its materials is the reason that I chose to write about the company today. This is my weekly anti-racist post, and I think that it is vital for us to make sure our students understand our history through multiple points of view. As I looked through some of the sample curriculum for 4th graders in Utah, I saw lessons about the Navajo tribe and its rich traditions, as well as the impact of the European explorers and Americans upon their culture. We cannot ignore this part of our history, and the curriculum relates the facts of the mistreatment of this tribe by the American government. As you can see in the screen shot below from the Analytic Orange website, the company is dedicated to ensuring the complete story is included in its curriculum.

image from Analytic Orange

Analytic Orange has partnered with the Joan Trumpauer Mullholland Foundation, a foundation formed to end racism through education. They will be offering their program curriculum on Canvas, Google Classroom, and SRG Technologies (BlenderLearn) as soon as January, 2021. In an e-mail to me, Shari Markowitz said, “Throughout our publication, we present women and people of color in various situations that are not typically presented in mainstream textbooks. Children will see themselves in our publication. “

I believe that the more students are able to see themselves in the history of our country, the more empowered they will feel to become involved in preserving and furthering its assets while working to rectify its liabilities.

A large part of eradicating racism is education. We cannot expect future generations to avoid the missteps of the past if they are ignorant of them.

For links to my previous anti-racist posts, click here.

YouCanBe ABC’s

Fridays have typically been my day for publishing my weekly anti-racist posts. I almost saved yesterday’s video about engineering for today because I know that we not only have small number of women in STEM fields, but also people of color. But then I saw “Sam’s ABC’s”, and knew it would be a perfect Friday post.

Sam White raps potential careers for each letter of the alphabet in this video. If he doesn’t inspire you to become a gastroenterologist to solve “problems in the gut,” you might want to become a university president and “the future of your nation.”

I have seen too many stories of black students talking about being discouraged from pursuing careers, and spoken to too many high school students who never imagined all of the possibilities out there. Sam already knows at least 26 things “you can be,” and I am certain he is going to be great at whatever he chooses.

For a list of my previous anti-racist posts, click here.

On a Plate

I did not grow up in a wealthy family. I never wore designer clothes, couldn’t afford a car until I was 21 (and, boy, was it a clunker). I paid my own way through college – sometimes working three jobs at a time – and still graduated thousands of dollars in debt.

But I was still privileged.

I am white, and I had many people along the way who gave me chances. Yes, I worked hard, but I wouldn’t be where I am now without the lucky breaks I got throughout my life.

For a long time, I dismissed anyone who put me in that “privileged” category. Because I had worked so, so hard – and I went to school with people who could take a private jet to see a Broadway show on a whim or wear their clothes once and give them away. I was not in their league, I argued.

It took me many years to understand that “privileged” is not synonymous with” rich,” and that, despite all of my hard work and the many times I held my breath at the ATM when I tried to withdraw cash, I still had advantages that others do not.

“On a Plate” is a comic by Toby Morris that illustrates privilege, reminding us that our country is not a meritocracy, as we would like to believe, where anyone who works hard is rewarded.

In my series of weekly anti-racist posts, I am trying to learn more about myself and improve my own attitude along the way. I’m also trying to share resources with teachers for discussing anti-racism in the classroom. I hope that some of you will show this comic to your students, and open up a discussion about “privilege.” And I hope that some of them will come to the conclusion that while no one should be punished for being privileged, we need to do a better job of making sure no one should be punished because they are not.

Image by s__grafik from Pixabay

Here is a list of my previous anti-racist posts:

Also, for more amazing anti-racism resources, check out the Live Binder curated by Joy Kirr.