by Marsha Rakestraw

“Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”  ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Today in the U.S. we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., and his work for equality, justice, peace, and an end to hatred and discrimination because of our perceived differences.

If we’re people whose lives reflect the dominant privileged culture (white, male, heterosexual, not struggling with poverty, etc.) it can be easy to believe that we live in a post-racial, post-sexist, post-other-isms society.

And some of the recent legislation on marriage equality, for example, certainly can bolster our hope that the day of true equality is possible and that, as Arundhati Roy says, “…she is on her way.”

But as humane educators it’s essential that we continue to shed light on our continuing struggles with bias and discrimination and to help spark critical, compassionate, and creative thought and action about these issues.

Here are six of our free downloadable humane education activities that explore prejudice, discrimination, and/or racism.

Dare to Be Different
What is prejudice? Why do some people judge others because of their differences? How can we make positive choices that reflect understanding, acceptance, and tolerance? Students learn about these issues and have a chance to “dare to be different” by altering their appearance for a day.

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged
How do our own stereotypes and judgments limit our openness and receptivity to others? This activity uses props (or photos) to explore our snap perceptions of others.

Me Against My Brother: An Exploration of Genocide
Students explore genocide, its broader impacts, and develop a means for taking action to prevent or address genocide.

More Than a Label
This activity inspires students to think about their own areas of bigotry, to identify how we develop our attitudes about others, and empowers them to take action to reduce bigotry in their own lives and in society.

Racism Alphabet
Students explore examples of racism, consider perspectives about racism by writing a story, and discuss ways to eradicate racism in our society.

Where Are the People Like Me?
Students assess examples of  media (catalogs, magazines, books, etc.) to consider who is (and isn’t represented) and to explore the impact of lack of diversity in media and their own rich experiences with diversity.

Check out more of our humane education lesson plans and activities in our Resource Center.


Image courtesy of sakocreative/Flickr.