A big issue on many of our hearts and minds in the past few weeks has been the events in Ferguson, Missouri. While I encourage everyone to stay aware as the Ferguson community continues to grapple with how to find justice in the wake of Michael Brown’s murder, the question remains for the rest of us: how do we educate our children, students, and mentees about the state of African American civil rights in America in 2014? The death of Michael Brown (and others like him killed by police) leaves us with a responsibility to make sure the young people we love and influence learn from the tragedy– not only Black and brown children, but young people of all backgrounds. I’ve found the following resources inspiring and helpful; I hope you’ll share your own in the comments.
- Preparing to Discuss Michael Brown in the Classroom: This article from the DC Public School system gives advice for teachers on how to create a safe space for this emotional topic in the classroom, as well as listing resources classes can use for discussion.
- Constructing a Conversation on Race: New York Times columnist Charles Blow gives some helpful guidelines for framing discussions about race with a diverse audience– emphasizing that when we discuss the emotional, even violent issue of race with people of different backgrounds, it’s important to have some ground rules and background understandings in place in order to have a constructive conversation.
- Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?: Leaving aside the controversial title implying that people can be racist even if they don’t benefit from a system of racialized oppression, this New York Times editorial from Nicholas Kristof reminds of us the challenge of working to address racial disparities in a society where unconscious discrimination is as large or an even bigger problem than outright bigotry.
About the Author
Emile Session lives in Brooklyn, NY and works for Achievement First, a network of high performing public charter schools. He has worked as a math teacher, education researcher, and classroom observer, and is a graduate of Cornell and Columbia University.