Condemning Racism and Bigotry While Using Charlottesville as a Teachable Moment: Resources for Teachers, Parents, and Others
August 18, 2017 09:12 am
The Alliance for Excellent Education filmed a special edition of Federal Flash that condemns the actions by white supremacists in Charlottesville and urges parents, teachers, and others to talk about Charlottesville in their homes, classrooms, and communities. This blog post includes the video, a transcript of the video, as well as a series of resources that individuals can use to help start conversations about the nation’s dark history with slavery, the dangerous white supremacy movement, and the importance of equity, inclusion, and diversity in America.
Nikki McKinney, Director of Policy Development and Federal Government Relations, Alliance for Excellent Education:
Last summer, the Alliance filmed a special edition of Federal Flash in response to the shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, followed by shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge that claimed the lives of eight police officers.
Last weekend’s events in Charlottesville tell us that the nation is moving in the wrong direction when it comes to equity, inclusion, and an appreciation of–and respect for–diversity.
Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education and Former Governor of West Virginia:
In a very visible way, the destructiveness of white supremacy was on the march last weekend. And yet 400,000 Americans died in World War II to safeguard the world from the very groups marching with swastikas in Charlottesville.
As our parents and grandparents could not stand silent, more than ever each of us must speak up to refute the hate and violence that some seek to bring to every community.
I am saddened and sickened by the violent, racist, hateful acts committed by white supremacists in Charlottesville. Mince no words, those waving Nazi flags espouse the same ideology of hate resulting in the Holocaust to lynchings, to Jim Crow, that have stained the world and this nation during and after slavery.
For many, the actions in Charlottesville by such a large number of white supremacists were a wake-up call to racism and bigotry that many thought were banished decades ago. For others, the acts were different day, same story.
This violent expression of hatred at the site of a renowned public university demands action in every education institution.
First is to protect all students from being abused or demeaned. Second is to provide educators with tools to deal meaningfully with discrimination and hatred that they may see in their educational settings. Third is to require all public officials to denounce—immediately and often—the actions of those advocating white supremacy.
The Klan and Nazi torches in Charlottesville illuminated what is all-too-frequently occurring in many parts and schools throughout our country.
We must remember that for every discriminatory act that appears on network news or on the front page of the daily newspaper, there are far more cases of violence, intimidation, and verbal and physical abuse that leave individuals and families suffering in silence and away from the public eye. A lonely high school corridor can be as frightening as an angry street when racism and intolerance run the halls.
Let us also remember and recognize the tremendous impact that these violent acts and images have on all the nation’s children—black, brown, and white. Some children deal with these actions firsthand. Others hear about it from friends or consume it through television, radio, and social media. All are asking questions that no parent should have to answer and dealing with fear that no child should experience. These young people represent the best that America has to offer. White supremacists represent the worst.
Students of color make up half of students nationwide, but this doesn’t mean that our schools and school districts are necessarily diverse and integrated. In fact, in over a quarter of school districts, 90 percent of the school population is white.
It’s especially important for school districts that are heavily white to engage in this conversation about the nation’s dark history with slavery and the dangerous white supremacy movement. It is equally important to use Charlottesville as a teachable moment in our homes, classrooms, and communities.
The Alliance for Excellent Education has compiled a series of resources for parents, teachers, and others to help start these conversations. They are available at the bottom of this blog post.
As a nation, let us pledge to confront and eliminate evil in all its forms. Let us pledge to value the diversity of America, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, culture, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental and physical ability, religion, age, and linguistics. Let us demonstrate to white supremacists that the violent and intimidating acts they support and the hateful messages they spew are not tolerated in America.
At the Alliance for Excellent Education, we value education over ignorance, truth over lies, action over inaction, and love over hate. We believe that everyone in America should live without fear, with the security that they have the right to reach for—and achieve—their every dream, for themselves and their children.
Click to Tweet: Condemning Racism & Bigotry & Using #Charlottesville as a Teachable Moment. Watch & access resources from @all4ed: tinyurl.com/CharlottesvilleResources
Resources for Teachers, Parents, and Others
On Recent Events in Charlottesville
- Educators are using #CharlottesvilleCurriculum to curate various tools and resources to use in the classroom to talk about issues surrounding recent events.
- Educators and partners assemble resources and lessons to teach about Charlottesville through the Share My Lesson platform, supported by the American Federation of Teachers.
- Unite Against Hate! offers resources for students, educators, and families as they engage in current national dialogue about racism, hate, and bias, compiled by the National Education Association.
- The Anti-Defamation League explains the teachable moments resulting from the recent Charlottesville events in “Lessons to Teach and Learn from ‘Unite the Right’.”
- Future Ready Librarians from around the country are sharing Anti-Racist Resources in response to the tragic Charlottesville events.
- In “Talking to Children When Hate Makes Headlines,” CNN offers resources to teachers and parents now having conversations about hate and bigotry with children.
- In their statement on Charlottesville, leaders of New Profit recommend resources for talking about racism and violence with children, as well as exercises supporting mental health.
- Teach Plus compiled a list of Tools and Resources for Teaching About Race, History, and Other Issues Related to Charlottesville.
On Related Issues
- #FergusonSyllabus was developed and used in the wake of the protests that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri.
- Available on Edutopia, José Vilson, a middle school math teacher and coach discusses tools and strategies for having difficult but necessary conversations in “How to Teach Beyond Ferguson.”
On Segregation in Schools
- The Century Foundation’s report, A New Wave of School Integration: Districts and Charters Pursuing Socioeconomic Diversity, discusses the still prevalent issue of racial and socioeconomic segregation in schools. It highlights the work that school districts and charter schools are doing to promote integration.
On Confederate Symbols and Discussions About Race and Privilege
- In The History of White People (W. W. Norton & Company, 2011), Neil Irvin Painter describes the how the concept of race has developed over time in Western civilization.
- In “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack,” Peggy McIntosh provides a description of how she benefits from her racial identity—used often to start discussions about race and privilege.
- The Atlantic describes the current debate regarding confederate monuments and flags in two articles: “The Stubborn Persistence of Confederate Monuments” and “Take Down the Confederate Flag—Now.”
General Resources for Supporting Educators
- Teaching Tolerance supports educators in teaching about diversity, equity, and justice by providing classroom resources such as a Learning Plan Builder and other tools for professional development.
- The Alliance for Excellent Education created a series of posts discussing how trauma impacts teens, school safety, and discipline, as well as creating positive learning environments to support parents and educators.
- Educator and writer Jon Greenburg’s personal website, Citizen & Social Justice, features a blog and resources for teaching about social justice and encouraging civic engagement in the classroom.
- The U.S. Department of Education’s Training and Advisory Services Equity Assistance Centers provide free equity-related resources for states in their regions.
- The Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard University offers strategies in “Managing Hot Moments in the Classroom,” to help teachers turn difficult encounters with topics such as race, religion, and politics into learning opportunities.
- Common Sense Media provides a list of resources for educators seeking to develop an inclusive culture in their classroom and teach social and emotional skills to students.