Category Archives: Anti-Racism

BrainPop: Black Lives Matter Protests

BrainPop has created an excellent animated video that explains the protests for Black Lives Matter.  It is accompanied by a blog post that offers tips for discussing related topics with young people, and a video discussion guide. This is a fairly recent addition to the BrainPop archives, as it refers to the death of George Floyd and other current events.  You may prefer to read quickly through the transcript instead of watching the video to determine if it is appropriate for your target audience.

This post is part of a weekly Black Lives Matter series that I have vowed to include on this blog.  Here are the previous posts:

Black Lives Matter
Image by S B from Pixabay

21 Day Challenge

According to its website, the Bexley Anti-Racism Project is sponsored by “a coalition of POC and white allies who are current students or graduates of Bexley High School.”  As I am working to educate myself about anti-racism, I was pleased to see the “21 Day Challenge” on the BARP website.  As you can see in the image below, each day gives you a source to read, watch, or hear that will further your understanding of anti-racism.  (You can click on the link in the previous sentence, or on the image below to find the links referenced for each day.)  Only two of these suggestions were on my radar before I saw this helpful graphic, so I am thankful for the people who are behind BARP for putting this together.

I committed to doing weekly anti-racism posts last month.  Here are the previous ones, in case you have missed them:

bexley

 

When Your “President” Says, Kung Flu

When the supposed leader of your country calls a deadly virus, “Kung Flu,” he is being racist.  Deliberately.  It’s not ignorance, and it’s not a slip of the tongue.  It’s a calculated move.  You’re not going to change his mind.

But when your Uncle John says, “Kung Flu,” because he heard the supposed leader of the country say it, you have options.

I’m not going to pretend I have used any of these options.  I despise confrontation.  I’m trying to get over that.  Fortunately, I’ve made it a habit over the years to mostly be around kind and sane people who don’t mind if we disagree every once in awhile.  But there have been times that I am so astounded by someone’s biased comments that I wish I had a cheat sheet to help me get those conversations started.  Or stopped.  It turns out that there are some other people out there who have apparently had discussions with my Uncle John, and they have come up with a few ways to respond to his bigoted words.

Racism Interruptions is a collection of civilized phrases that are excellent alternatives to the expletive-filled replies that may fill your head when Uncle John spouts off at the next family dinner.  This page, created by the graduates of the Oregon Center for Educational Equity (which does not seem to have a working website any longer) was tweeted by Jennifer Gonzalez (@CultofPedagogy).  Laminate it and stick it in your wallet.

Teaching Tolerance has its own 4-step process designed explicitly for confronting Coronavirus racism here.  It includes: Interrupt, Question, Educate, and Echo.  I was a bit concerned when I read the last heading, “Echo,” but relieved to see that we should echo the anti-racist comments of others – not blustering Uncle John.

And if you do happen to get invited to the White House before November, start doing push-ups every day to strengthen your arms, and tattoo this to the palm of your hand, “Dude, pick another word,” so you can hold it up repeatedly.

It won’t work, but he’ll have to pause a long time to read it, and he might just forget what he was saying.

palmrevised

 

Bias

Today is Juneteenth.  155 years ago,  Union soldiers led by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free.  This was two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.  Unfortunately, the slow delivery of this official notice was indicative of the years that followed.  Some Americans apparently still haven’t received the message.

As promised a few weeks ago, I am continuing to post weekly about anti-racism.  As I learn more about my own complicity in our nation’s reluctance to face the problems of bias and racism, I want to share resources that have helped me, as well as ones that can be used with students.

In the last month, I have read two great books that I received through the Next Big Idea Book Club.  These books arrived long before the recent protests, but they were perfectly relevant – which is a sad commentary on how far we haven’t come.  I would recommend these books to those of you who are interested in scientific evidence that explains why we continue to make the same mistakes in our culture.  The first is, Talking to Strangers, by Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell uses multiple stories (including the death of Sandra Bland) and scientific investigations to explain how our misconceptions and inherent biases lead us to believe we can “read” people we don’t know when we really are making poor assumptions. Biased, by Jennifer Eberhardt, is an intriguing look at our neurological tendencies to stereotype.  Eberhardt, a professor of Psychology at Stanford, shares the results of several fascinating studies that reveal how our brains find it easy to embrace bias – and gives some suggestions for how we can overcome this.  (By the way, these book links are to “The Dock” independent bookstore in Ft. Worth, Texas, an African-American owned store, through Bookshop.org.)

While spending a lot of time reflecting about bias, including my own, I was going through the Anti-Racism Live Binder that Joy Kirr had kindly shared with me back when I first posted about my anger regarding George Floyd’s murder.  I found this post under the, “For IN Class” tab.  “Confronting Bias with Fifth Graders: Using the Draw-A-Scientist Experiment and the Covers of Picture Books To Help Students Recognize the Biases They Hold” is by Jessica Lifshitz.  There are several lessons and links to resources in this post that could definitely be used with students who are 10 and up.  I’ve used the “Draw-A-Scientist” lesson that is at the beginning of their journey, but I never took it to the level that Lifshitz did.  Teachers who are thinking about how to confront bias and racism in the classroom should definitely take a look at this post.

Happy Juneteenth.  I hope that, a year from now, we can celebrate some real positive changes in these areas.

Hands Together
Image by truthseeker08 from Pixabay

 

Texts for Talking About Race

As I continue to educate myself on anti-racism, I have vowed to devote a weekly post to this cause.  I have been curating resources for this at a rate that is impossible to sustain, and it has been a bit overwhelming.  I don’t want to dump a lot of links on you because you can basically get any list that you want from social media.  Following the tradition of this blog, I will attempt to share no more than a few quality resources with each post.

Today’s very useful resource is brought to you by CommonLit.  I’ve written about CommonLit a couple of times on this blog, and it is heartening to see that this website has continued to improve.  Provided by a non-profit, CommonLit also has remained free for teachers.  As you know, (and I mentioned in yesterday’s post), quality ed tech tools are difficult to find, and sometimes don’t last very long.

CommonLit has compiled 59 texts for talking about race.  It appears that the grade range is from 4th-12th.  Here is an example of a poem called, “The Child,” by J. Patrick Lewis, that is suitable for 4th grade and up.  As you can see on the right-hand side, activities are provided to go along with the text, including questions and discussion suggestions.  Students who are logged in on a computer (not a mobile device at this time) can also annotate the text.  They can have the computer read it out loud, or translate to another language.

At the top of the page, you will see tabs for paired texts, related media, and parent/teacher guides to go along with the specific text.  You must be logged in for some of these resources – but remember it is free to register!

If school is already out in your neck of the woods, be sure to bookmark this resource for next school year.  Parents, you don’t need to wait, since there are guides for you to use if you want to start the discussion now.

Stop Racism
Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

“I Don’t See Color”

“The thing is, I really don’t see color in my class,” I told my husband and daughter at dinner one night.  We were discussing a student who had accused me of being racist (a story I’ll explain in another post), and I was describing my honest surprise at the student’s comment.

Of course I’m not blind, but I was genuinely offended by the student accusing me of reacting to him because of his skin color.  Having taught for more than a quarter of a century, I prided myself on being fair with my students.  When I said that I don’t see color, I meant that I placed the color of someone’s skin on the same level as the color of their hair or their eyes.  I meant that it was not a factor in my decisions about how to educate that student.  Growing up in a generation where acknowledging that a person was a different color was equivalent to prejudice and stereotyping, I thought I was doing the right thing by ignoring skin tone completely.  I had made the mistake that we often make in education (and in life) by over-correcting and jumping to the opposite extreme.

After last week’s post, I was afraid to write anything else.  I know that I have been racist, though unintentionally, and I was fearful that anything I said might, once again, shed light on my ignorance.

But then I got inspiration from what some might think to be an unlikely source.  I was listening to the latest My Favorite Murder podcast episode, “It’s Jenga,” as I walked my dog this morning. The hosts were discussing current events, and one of them admitted, “We’re so nervous to even talk about this because we don’t want to be wrong.”

“Yes!” I thought.  And then she shared some insight from her therapist:

Do-not-fear-being-wrong

So, I will admit that I was wrong to ignore the skin color of my students.  It was wrong because it meant that I was not willing to acknowledge the systemic problems that assault people of color in every area of their lives, the trauma that it can cause, and the way I might need to differentiate for this in my classroom.  I am truly sorry. (For a much more detailed explanation of why I shouldn’t have ignored color, please read this post by Joy Mohammed on We Are Teachers.)

In the meantime, I have been introspective about other parts of my life where I have been ignoring people of color.  I looked at my list of “Engaging Educators” on this blog, and realized I only had one person of color on the list.  This was not a conscious decision – but that’s the problem.  I sought to change that, and I have now added some other people who I deeply admire but it just never occurred to me include.  If you know of any other education bloggers I should consider, please let me know in the comments below or @terrieichholz on Twitter.

In my attempt to become anti-racist, instead of being a silent bystander, I am pledging to write at least one anti-racist post each week.  For those of you who follow me for the resources I share, I will resume doing that next week as well.

Take care out there.  I noticed a few hits on my blog today for this post, “Treat People Right.”  If you want to see a story that reminds you that there are many humans out there trying to be kind and do the right thing, check out that short video from StoryCorps.