Dear Fellow White Folks at the Front of the Classroom:
In less than a week, Donald Trump will be president of the United States. Maybe you supported him. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe you really don’t care who is president.
However you feel, I promise you are in front of plenty of students who DO care, students who have paid attention to Trump’s stances on building a wall with Mexico, his support of stop and frisk, his derisive comments about women, and more.
You are also in front of students who supported Trump, whose families supported Trump. These students are part of the conversation, too.
And so it’s a delicate balance.
In the interest of providing space for real dialogue and accurate information, I issue you a challenge:
Teach something from the Black Lives Matter Syllabus this week.
It was designed by Frank Leon Roberts (firstname.lastname@example.org) at BlackLivesMatterSyllabus.com and is is a rich, current curriculum to investigate and discuss race relations in our complex, beautiful, and divided country.
- Discuss/debate/find examples of these non-violent actions. What have students witnessed? What issues need attention in their schools and communities and which actions could they use? Which shouldn’t they use? Why?
2. Watch one of the many Ted Talks on the syllabus. What did your students learn, like, and wonder?
3. Create a scavenger hunt of Black Lives Matter. Have your students scour the website and find real information for themselves, not filtered through another site. A great example of using primary sources. In fact, check back – I’m going to make one.
4.Debate Colin Kaepernick’s controversial decisions to kneel for the National Anthem at NFL games. This is a wonderful opportunity to discussion professional vs. personal and non-violent protest.
5. In the spirit of Angela Davis’ Are Prisons Obsolete?, investigate the school-to-prison pipeline. What is your school and community doing to support all learners and to limit students’ involvement in the judicial system? How does stop and frisk impact interaction with the judicial system?
6. Although this isn’t from the Black Lives Matter Syllabus, many people are participating in an inauguration blackout, meaning they are refusing to watch it in protest. Research this with your students and ask them what they’d like to do and why. If they want to watch it, watch it. If not, what kind of alternative activity can your students design? As they sang in Rent, “the opposite of war isn’t peace, it’s creation.”
Finally, if like me, you are worried about this administration and Congress, start thinking about how you personally are going to help get out the vote for midterm elections. Our work is just starting.
Please post any and all comments/ideas below. We need you.