Tag Archives: Anti-Racism

Why We Must Not Cancel the Holocaust

I read a disturbing statistic on Twitter the other day – that almost 24% of young people in the United States either don’t believe the Holocaust ever happened, aren’t sure, or think its traumatic impact has been exaggerated. 2/3 of Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 have no idea that 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

You can learn more about the study in this article from The Guardian. If these statistics don’t bother you, then you may be someone who thinks we should leave the past and move forward. You may find it offensive to see constant references to the Holocaust and prefer to keep it out of your social media timeline. You may find people who continue to bring up the Holocaust objectionable for not being able to leave it where it belongs – in distant history.

You may want to cancel it.

So, in this week’s anti-racist post I want to address why you shouldn’t. If you are an educator, you can’t just leave out the Holocaust or assign a few pages in a textbook and be done.

In her Newbery Acceptance Speech for The Giver in 1994, Lois Lowry told of a time she had answered a question from someone in a previous audience.

“A woman raises her hand. When the turn for her question comes, she
sighs very loudly and says, ‘Why do we have to tell this Holocaust thing over and over? Is it really necessary?’ I answer her as well as I can – quoting, in fact, my German daughter-in-law, who has said to me, ‘No one knows better than we Germans that we must tell this again and again.’
But I think about her question – and my answer – a great deal.
Wouldn’t it, I think, playing Devil’s Advocate to myself, make for a more
comfortable world to forget the Holocaust? And I remember once again how comfortable, familiar and safe my parents had sought to make my childhood by shielding me from ELSEWHERE. But I remember, too, that my response had been to open the gate again and again. My instinct had been a child’s attempt to see for myself what lay beyond the wall.”

In a video that you can find on Facing History, Holocaust survivor and poet, Ava Schieber, speaks to a group of 7th graders. One asks her, “Did you think you were going to survive?” Ava replies that she knew she had to survive, and says:

As the Holocaust becomes more faint, as more survivors are no longer here to give us their first-hand accounts of the horrors they witnessed, it may become tempting to allow the memories to fade. But if we do not learn from the mistakes that led to these atrocities, we will be doomed to commit them again – in fact we may already be close to doing so.

There are many resources on Facing History and Teaching Tolerance for educating young people about the Holocaust.

And if you think that time was so different from what is happening in the world today, I want to leave you with one more quote from Ava Schieber when a student asked her if she regretted the time she had lost while hiding during the Holocaust:

Here are my previous anti-racism posts in case you have missed them:

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

Lessons Learned

I watched this animated Storycorps video today, and almost burst into tears. Between the heroic teachers and principal, Mr. Hill, that William Lynn Weaver encountered during his education and the ones who deliberately shut him out because of the color of his skin, I felt all of the emotions that most of us probably have right beneath the surface just surge through me all at once. Mr. Weaver’s story is set in the 1960’s, but I am sad to see that the racism he describes has not disappeared. Fortunately, neither have the wonderful educators who champion children like him.

This is my weekly anti-racist post. For more Storycorps inspiration along the same vein, you may want to read my post, “Eyes on the Stars” about astronaut Ronald McNair.

Here are my previous anti-racism posts in case you have missed them:

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

Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices

As some of you know, I have committed to publishing one post a week dedicated to anti-racism. I want to thank my friend, Callan, for bringing my attention to this week’s resource when she shared it on Facebook. Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices is produced by Netflix. The series of short videos (most of them less than 10 minutes) features Black celebrities reading children’s books by Black authors. According to the site, the twelve books “featured in the series were chosen using a social justice education framework that focused on concepts of Identity, Respect, Justice, and Action.”

Marley Dias, a 15 year old young woman who founded #1000BlackGirlBooks, introduces each segment’s guest reader, and has her own episode reading We March by Shane Evans. Marley is an author, herself, having penned the book, Marley Dias Gets It Done, and So Can You, when she was just 13 years old.

As I watched Anti-Racist Baby being read aloud by Kendrick Sampson and The Day You Begin narrated by Jacqueline Woodson (who is also the author of the book), I felt a sense of peace and inspiration. Instead of the anger I have been feeling about recent injustices, I felt motivated to find more ways to make change through kindness and understanding. At the end of her narration, Woodson asks, “What makes you so fabulously different from everyone else you meet?” and it was as though she had gently wrapped a warm blanket around my heart.

Image by Miroslava Chrienova from Pixabay

Along with the videos on the site, you can find book recommendations for different age groups, as well as suggestions for activities and other resources.

Here are my previous anti-racism posts in case you have missed them:

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

Anti-Racist Resource Guide

I apologize that I have been “off-the-grid” for the last couple of weeks, but I am resuming my schedule of publishing at least one blog post each week committed to anti-racism.  Today’s awesome website, the Anti-Racist Resource Guide, is brought to you by Victoria Lynn Alexander, who is a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland.   As Alexander explains on the home page, “Within this guide, please find a variety of resources to explore practical ways to understand, explain, and solve seemingly intractable problems of racial inequity, white supremacy, police violence, and injustice.”

The site is well-organized into categories, as you can see from the screen-shot below.

Topics to be found on the Anti-Racist Resource Guide website

Each button will lead you to a concise document that offers numerous links and suggestions for that particular sub-topic.  The documents are concise and thoughtfully designed with meaningful information and examples.  Alexander plans to continue updating the site as new resources become available.  There is a lot to unpack here, but Alexander does a great job at keeping it from becoming overwhelming.

Just in case you missed my other posts specifically targeting racism, here is the list so far:

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


Systemic Racism Explained

Before I get into this week’s post dedicated to eradicating racism, I want to make note of the moving moment that took place yesterday when teams for both the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees all took a knee at the same time to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.  After this truly awe-inspiring scene, which you can read about here, they all stood for the National Anthem, demonstrating that we can honor our country while still wanting to improve it.

baseball kneeling

As more and more institutions in the United States acknowledge the problem of racism, it is important for young people to understand how embedded prejudice is in the history of our country, and the strength it will take to root it out.  TED Ed has a good animated video that explains systemic racism.  Though a four minute video certainly cannot give the whole picture, it is a simple introduction for students who may have the misguided belief that racism ended when schools were integrated.  If you want to have your class probe further, the “Dig Deeper” section includes a link to a Vox article that incorporates several charts portraying the racial divide that still exists in our country, including one showing the disparity among Native Americans/Blacks and people of other races who have been reported to have died from Covid-19.

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:

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

Stamped Digital Reader’s Notebook

UPDATE 7/23/20 – Here is a link to a guide for Stamped.  Also, find out more about author Jason Reynolds in this blog post.

For this week’s post dedicated to sharing anti-racist resources, I am giving you the link to a digital Reader’s Notebook that was tweeted out by Pernille Ripp (@PernilleRipp) today.  This is a Google Slides template created by Jennifer LeBrun to accompany the book, Stamped, co-authored by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Stamped is based on Kendi’s book, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, which Reynolds and Kendi “re-mixed” to create a book with the same information for younger audiences.  If you haven’t had a chance to read Stamped, yet, you may want to try purchasing it from one of these independent, black-owned, bookstores. It is extremely readable, and offers pretty much all of the information about racism that history textbooks completely ignore or wrongly represent to intentionally mislead readers.  The Google Slides template is extremely thorough, and the book along with this notebook and some well-orchestrated discussions would make a fine addition to any middle to high school curriculum.



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:

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