by Marsha Rakestraw
Over the weekend, hatred and violence descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, as white nationalists amassed to “take America back,” and opponents gathered to protest white supremacy and oppression.
On Friday night white supremacists marched on the University of Virginia campus, carrying torches, chanting, and surrounding a small group of counterprotesters. On Saturday, people from both sides were seen beating each other, and in an act of terrorism, a white supremacist drove his car through a group of protestors, killing one young woman and injuring dozens more.
While systemic racism has been an integral part of US history and culture (but one often ignored by white people), in the last several months, egregious acts of hatred have regularly become front page news, and white-focused hate groups have expanded and become more vocal and militant.
The hard truth is that racism, oppression, and hatred are thriving (and have long thrived) in the US.
And it is vital that conversations about white supremacy, discrimination, hatred, and the escalation of extremist views and actions take place in our classrooms.
Exploring these issues offers students a chance to think critically and creatively (and question what they’re hearing and seeing), communicate passionately and compassionately, hone their research skills, and use their skills and the solutionary lens to discuss choices that could do more good and less harm for all and the roles as young citizens that they can play in creating a better world.
Here are several resources to help you bring these issues to your classroom.
- #CharlottesvilleCurriculum – Educators and changemakers are posting relevant resources about issues related to what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, to help teachers explore these issues with their students.
- “The First Thing Teachers Should Do When School Starts Is Talk About Hatred in America” – The Washington Post highlights the #CharlottesvilleCurriculum and also offers a sampling of useful resources and lesson ideas for discussing issues of hate and systemic racism.
- “How to Talk To Your Kids About the Violence in Charlottesville” – An LA Times article with useful advice to help parents and educators talk to children about what’s been happening in Charlottesville and beyond.
- “Seven Ways That Teachers Can Respond to the Evil of Charlottesville, Starting Now” – An educator, via AlterNet, has shared seven important tips to address the systemic challenges of white supremacy, racism, and other oppressions that can be fostered in the school community.
- “The Sikh and the Skinhead” – This article from Teaching Tolerance highlights one teacher’s partnership with a former neo-Nazi to help his students explore what causes extremist hate and to understand that people can change. The article includes a couple of teaching resource ideas.
- Southern Poverty Law Center – This organization, which promotes justice and equity and works to expose hate and injustice, has a section of their website devoted to “hate and extremism.” SPLC also has created a “10 Ways to Fight Hate” community response guide.
Use these curated resources for getting useful tips for exploring controversial issues in your classroom.
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Image via Stephen Melkisethian/Flickr.