Race and Ethnicity

Classroom Guest Busts Stereotypes

It’s not unusual to encounter misconceptions about Africa. People erroneously refer to “the country of Africa” or say that someone “speaks African.” Most of my third-grade students were African-American, and they not only knew very little about Africa; they held negative assumptions about anyone who is African. Worse, my students used “black African” as a slur. No one knew how that got started. In fact, part of the reason I usually say “black” instead of “African-American” is that I got used to my students saying “black.” The term “African” was not anything they wanted associated with themselves, even with “American” tacked on to the end.

It’s not unusual to encounter misconceptions about Africa.

Why Our Students Need ‘Equity Literacy’

Several stacks of fake dollar bills enclosed in a Plexiglas case sit at the center of an exhibit entitled “RACE: Are We So Different?” at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. One stack towers over the others. This teetering pile of bills represents the average net worth of “white” people’s assets in relation to those of other racialized groups based upon data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau from 1997 to 2000. While the “Asian” stack is almost as high, the “black” stack can hardly be called a stack at all; the “Latino” stack is almost as low.

Several stacks of fake dollar bills enclosed in a Plexiglas case sit at the center of an exhibit entitled “RACE: Are We So Different

Sorting People and Sorting Out Students

I asked my sixth-graders a loaded question at the beginning of my Holocaust unit. “What is race?” I hoped to help students comprehend the flaws in Nazi ideology regarding Jewish people and race science. When they stared blankly at me for a few moments before responding with answers that covered everything from nationality and religion to skin color, I knew my lesson plans for the day were about to change.

I asked my sixth-graders a loaded question at the beginning of my Holocaust unit.

Becoming the Minority Offers New Insight

Have you ever been the only (fill in category) person in the room? Race, class, gender, age, body type, marital status—any number of identifiers can place us outside the norm, depending on the room. Otherness is a specific experience, especially for those who don’t live it every day.

A couple of my students unwittingly placed themselves squarely into the role of “other” in an assignment outside our classroom, and I suspect learned a more powerful lesson than I ever could have taught them in class.

The assignment was to find, attend and write an article covering an event. When two students proposed attending a senior citizen fundraising fashion show on the other side of town, I immediately approved the idea.

Have you ever been the only (fill in category) person in the room? Race, class, gender, age, body type, marital status—any number of identifiers can place us outside the norm, depending on the room.

Durham Schools Agree to End Discriminatory Policies

We were encouraged to see that the school system in Durham, N.C., last week agreed to end discriminatory practices that prevent Latino students from receiving an adequate public education.

We were encouraged to see that the school system in Durham, N.C., last week agreed to end discriminatory practices that prevent Latino students from receiving an adequate public education.

Students Break Out of Fixed-Race Box

My journalism students were brainstorming topics for their final story projects. I urged them to come up with compelling ideas that relate to their experiences but that push deeply into national trends.
“Stop letting all the midlife writers (like myself) tell your stories,” I pushed. “Tell your own.”

My journalism students were brainstorming topics for their final story projects.

Student Context Helps Resolve Conflict

The food justice unit was one of the most successful of the year. Until the meltdown.

Students had watched Food, Inc., read several articles about food production and created masterful multimedia presentations on their learning. They were now presenting. Omar chose several pictures of his favorite dishes. He told us about them and how they were made. Then he interjected a seemingly innocent joke.

The food justice unit was one of the most successful of the year. Until the meltdown.

Challenging Stereotypes in 'Peter Pan'

I was putting my 6-year-old son to bed recently when he excitedly announced that he was going to be in the school play.

“Peter Pan,” he said.

I was putting my 6-year-old son to bed recently when he excitedly announced that he was going to be in the school play.

“Peter Pan,” he said.

Help Students Find Their ‘Power of One’

I see my cocoa brown hand grab the handle of the door. I take a deep breath. I already know what I will see and I am sure I will know what I feel. I step into the room and professionally scan the room so fast no one even knows I am doing it. It’s what I expect. I accept I am the “only one” with a tan that never goes away.

I am the only African-American in the room.

I see my cocoa brown hand grab the handle of the door. I take a deep breath. I already know what I will see and I am sure I will know what I feel.

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