X
LESSON

Dismantling Racial Caste

What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States? Legal and policy solutions alone are not enough to dismantle racial caste because the methods of racial control within this system are “legal” and rarely appear as outwardly discriminatory. A social movement that confronts the role of race and cultivates an ethic of care must form or else a new racial caste system will emerge in the future.
Grade Level

Teaching 'The New Jim Crow'
Lesson 10: Dismantling Racial Caste

Essential Question

  • What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States?

 

Big Idea

  • Legal and policy solutions alone are not enough to dismantle racial caste because the methods of racial control within this system are “legal” and rarely appear as outwardly discriminatory. A social movement that confronts the role of race and cultivates an ethic of care must form or a new racial caste system will emerge in the future. 

 

Objectives

  • Students will compare and evaluate different ideas about how to end racial caste and bring about racial justice in the United States. 
  • Students will think about what they can do to be part of the solution and begin making plans to “Do Something.”

 

Required Materials            

 

Optional Materials

  • definitions of select tier II and III words
  • mini-lessons or additional information to build students’ background knowledge

 

Background Knowledge and Knowledge Areas

  • Brown vs. Board of Education (1954)
  • Dr. King’s later philosophy and writing
  • Jena 6
  • Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott

 

Tier II and III vocabulary

  • advocate
  • alienate
  • bewilderment
  • brutality
  • consciousness
  • consensus
  • contingent
  • distort
  • illusion
  • litigation
  • manipulation
  • noose
  • paradigm
  • pragmatic
  • vigilant

 

Warm Up

Write the prompt (below) on the board and allow students time to quietly and independently respond in writing. If you have a journal procedure, use it here. Allow time for sharing and discussion.

Today, we will read an excerpt from the final chapter of The New Jim Crow. In this chapter, titled “The Fire This Time,” Alexander outlines what it will take, in her opinion, to permanently dismantle racial caste in the United States. Based on what we have read thus far and your familiarity with her writing, what are two things you predict she might say? 

 

Before Reading

Prepare students for thinking about the themes and topics in the excerpt “The Fire This Time” by introducing them to Do Something performance tasks and/or Write to the Source writing tasks. You can elect to use one or both assessment types, as well as assign tasks or allow students to choose from a set of options.

Do Something is an opportunity to assess your students’ understanding of the themes and ideas in The New Jim Crow through authentic performance tasks. 

  1. Review the three essential questions and explain to students that “The Fire This Time” focuses on the third—What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States?”—and challenges readers with a call to action. Tell students that they will have the opportunity to respond to this call. 

  2. Pass out copies of the Do Something Choice Board and spend some time reviewing and discussing the various tasks as a class. Tell students that by the end of this lesson they will each get to choose a task that they will complete or perform as a final project. Because Do Something tasks challenge students to transfer their learning into authentic real world contexts, it is critical that they are motivated by whatever the choice is.   

  3. If students have questions about the expectations of each task or how they will be scored, share the rubrics with them.   

  4. Tell students to keep these tasks in mind as they read the excerpt “The Fire This Time.” 

Write to the Source is an opportunity to assess your students’ understanding of the themes and ideas in The New Jim Crow through argumentative, explanatory and narrative writing prompts that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy.

  1. Review the three essential questions and explain to students that “The Fire This Time” focuses on the third—What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States?” Remind students that over the course of their reading they have explored all three questions and that they will soon be asked to respond in writing to one.   

  2. Pass out copies of the Write to the Source prompts and spend some time reviewing and discussing them as a class. Tell students that by the end of this lesson they will each get to choose which essential question they will respond to and which writing prompt they will use to frame this final writing task. Alternatively, you may want to choose the writing type for students, based on your learning goals. In either scenario, it is recommended that students have some degree of choice among prompts. 
    • Argument Writing Prompt #1: Are You Convinced?
    • Argument Writing Prompt #2: Problem Solver
    • Explanatory Writing Prompt #1: So What?
    • Explanatory Writing Prompt #2: What’s the Impact?
    • Narrative Prompt #1: In Their Shoes
    • Narrative Prompt #2: The Pages of My Life

  3. If students have questions about the expectations of each task or how they will be scored, share the rubrics with them. 

  4. Tell students to keep these tasks in mind as they read “The Fire This Time.” 

 

During Reading

Engage students in a close reading of the excerpt. You can have students read by themselves or with a partner.

  • Independent Reading. Have students read the excerpt independently and silently, marking the text with Thinking notes. Thinking notes are annotations (highlights, underlines or symbols) that students make to document their thinking during reading.
  • Partner Reading. Have students read the excerpt in pairs using the Say Something strategy. Say Something gives students the opportunity to collaboratively interpret text and check for understanding.

 

After Reading

Facilitate a class discussion that uses this perspective-taking activity and the accompanying questions. 

What Would They Say?
This strategy brings perspective-taking to the forefront of the literacy experience. Analyzing different perspectives on a topic helps students build knowledge, compare ideas and think about the feelings and interests of others, key skills they will need as they conclude their reading of The New Jim Crow and look for ways to apply what they have learned in their lives. 

  1. Create several stations—three to five—around the classroom. Each station will represent a different person or figure—real or imagined. Students will be tasked with considering what that person’s point of view might be on questions raised in “The Fire This Time.” 

Be creative and thoughtful in choosing those stations. You want to include people who would likely have a diversity of opinions on the topic of mass incarceration and racial justice. You could include people whose stories students read about in previous chapters, national figures, local leaders, historical figures or people currently in the news. Creating hypothetical scenarios would also work. Here are some examples:

  • Dr. King (circa 1967)
  • James Baldwin
  • Nathaniel Bacon
  • a 60-year-old civil rights attorney
  • a 20-year-old community organizer
  • a 30-year-old convicted drug-felon, home on parole
  • a parent who lost her child to a drug overdose
  • an elderly woman who is scared of the young men selling drugs outside her apartment building
  1. Next, form that many groups of students (In other words, if you have three stations, you should have three groups of students). Have each group go to one of the stations. 

  2. Set up a circle of as many chairs or desks as you have stations and student groups. That space will serve as the “roundtable."

  3. Pose a question or statement to the class, and instruct teams to spend three minutes discussing how they think their person would respond. Students should be able to explain their reasoning and, if they can, highlight something from the text that supports their reasoning. 

  4. Have one student representative from each station come to the roundtable for discussion. Restate the question or statement. The role of those students is to represent what they think their “person” would say. To make the discussion richer and more challenging, have them talk to each other.  

  5. Have students return to their group once each person has spoken, and then rotate to the next station.

  6. Repeat steps four to six. Be sure each group visits each station at least one time. 

  7. Conclude the activity by having students share whose point of view they found themselves closest to. 

 

Conversation Starters 



Closing Activity

  1. Have students return to the Do Something Choice Board and/or list of Write to the Source prompts they received at the start of the lesson.

  2. Allow time for them to think some more about which task(s) they want to do and to make their final choices. For Do Something, instead of having individual students choose tasks, you may allow them to work in partners or groups or have the whole class work on a single task.

  3. If working with Do Something, give students a copy of the Do Something Student Planning Guide to complete. If working on Write to the Source, have students assemble their task by inserting an essential question and product. Provide help and support to students as they think through their planning.

  4. Collect their work. After class, review what your students are planning to do and what they need help with. This will allow you to begin your own planning for how to structure subsequent class time.  

 

Exit Ticket

Write the prompt (below) on the board, and allow students time to quietly and independently respond in writing. 

This lesson focused on an excerpt from “The Fire This Time,” the final chapter of The New Jim Crow. During the Warm Up you speculated about what you thought she might say in this chapter. Revisit that response and answer the following questions now, after having read the excerpt:

  1. Was your prediction in some part correct? Explain?
  2. How would you sum up the way Alexander responds to the essential question: “What social change is needed in order to permanently dismantle racial caste in the United States?”

 

Return to Teaching The New Jim Crow