Power, Privilege and Inequity Resources in American Government Classroom (2021)
Some race and racism resources I shared in an earlier chapter are also relevant here, plus a few more:
- What “system” is Baratunde Thurston describing?
- What is the “invisible fear” that he and other Black people carry with them? What causes it?
- What does he urge that we can do to change that system?
- What actions (even small ones) can each of us take in our own lives to “change the story” and bring about these changes?
The false narrative of racial difference
Bryan Stevenson’s TedTalk and related article:
- The urgent need for reconciliation in the United States | Bryan Stevenson
- Article by Bryan Stevenson: “This is the conversation about race we need to have now”
After reading the article (and watching the video), answer the following:
- What does Stevenson mean by the phrase “the narrative of racial difference”?
- When he says that slavery was never really abolished, is he speaking literally? What is the point he is trying to make?
- What were the “assaults” that he says his parents experienced? Why?
- Why did the elderly man in the audience want to talk to Stevenson? How and why did he get his scars?
- What has been your understanding of what the term “race” means as it is generally used in society (not looking for Googled definitions but your own thoughts before reading this essay or viewing the video)?
How America Invented Race
- How America Invented Race: The History of White People in America (08:39) This is a snappy video that tells the tale, partly in rap style, of the start of the idea of race in America, in colonial Jamestown, with a focus on Bacon’s Rebellion – the beginning of the end of intersectional lower class cooperation by the invention of race and elevating anyone “white” above anyone black. This is an important story that everyone of our students should know. I have suggested to students that when they encounter racist conversations among family or friends, rather than engage head on in often fruitless debate, simply ask – “do you know the story of Bacon’s Rebellion?” and proceed to tell it if they do not. No argument, just historical fact, widely unknown (like the 1921 Tulsa massacre, until recently).
Related to the video:
- Why is Bacon’s Rebellion an important event in understanding how the idea of race started and how it became associated with African slavery?
- What does it mean that race is a “social construct” and not biologically based? What evidence from this video (or the video we watched in class – Race: The Power of an Illusion) supports this?
- If race is an “idea” and not biological, how can that be used to address today’s problems of structural racism?
Other helpful resources — historical parallels to today’s racism
- The Blinding of Isaac Woodard, PBS 2021.
This is an excellent to tie in with the killing of George Floyd and discussions of other police violence against Black people (including the pepper-spraying of a Black soldier last December in Virginia, almost a replay of 1946 and Woodard’s blinding by a police chief). It chronicles the racism of the 1940s, the way the incident got media attention, how it led to action by President Truman, and ultimately the NAACP’s victory in the Supreme Court in Brown v Board of Education in 1954. Parallels to current day are plentiful in this film. The voices of those affected are heard in this film, an important point. (I showed excerpts of the film during the quarter, until I got stymied at the last part by lack of a PBS Passport.)
- Related to this is the database kept current by the Washington Post on police use of deadly force in the US
- Race: The Power of an Illusion, California Newsreel, 2003 (available on Kanopy via LWTech Library and your user ID). A lengthy 3-part film. I mainly use Part 2, The Story We Tell, as a companion piece to How America Invented Race video mentioned above. It provides the experts and data that supports the animated tale in the latter video. But Part I I think is also useful because it shows high school students reflecting on the genetic sampling of their blood conducted by their teacher, that shows how they are more closely related to classmates who don’t look like them than those who do, further debunking the “race is real” narrative.
- “Not All White People”, United Shades of America, CNN, hosted by W. Kamau Bell. Now in its 6th season, he is a treasure. Because I could not find free access, I purchased access on Amazon for $3 to the Season 4 episode 2, “Not All White People”, set in Seattle. I haven’t used it yet in class, but I think it is useful to show students how they can become personally engaged with others in fighting racism – interviews with real (white) people in the Seattle area who have joined or formed groups to become allies in the struggle – using their privilege to make a difference. So many more episodes are also gems.
- The 1921 Tulsa Massacre – Black Wall Street. Numerous documentaries released this Memorial Day weekend by CNN, PBS, History Channel, and more. I hope to use this in my next class. One modern-day fact missing from what I have seen in these docs, is the destruction of the BLM street mural on Greenwood Ave (the very street that runs through the destroyed Black community!) by the Tulsa city council earlier this year. I like to show students they need to match up historic treatment with modern day continuation of oppression – the past is not past.
- Me — email@example.com. I am willing to be a (free) guest speaker or consultant about issues affecting Indian tribes (especially local), for whom I spent many years working as a tribal lawyer, and have tribal family connections, as well. In addition, here is a useful resource about Indian tribes Although targeted for K-12, grade-appropriate material is available here for college students. This is the curriculum now required by law in WA public schools.