Sunday, May 31, 2020

There Is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times

Thanks to Dr. Diane Torres-Velasquez for sharing! -Angela

There Is No Apolitical Classroom: Resources for Teaching in These Times

The following post was created by members of NCTE’s Standing Committee Against Racism and Bias in the Teaching of English.
The members of NCTE’s Standing Committee Against Racism and Bias have felt an urgency since we each joined the committee to stand against racism and bias. We have been working on ways to encourage each member of NCTE to speak out against the systemic and individual acts of racism that disenfranchise our students in and out of the classroom.
We know that racism exists in our classrooms and in our communities. We feel that silence on these issues is complicity in the systemic racism that has marred our educational system. We see no place for neutrality and urge each member of NCTE to educate as many people as possible about the ways that systemic racism affects all of us in negative ways.
There is no apolitical classroom. English language arts teachers must examine the ways that racism has personally shaped their beliefs and must examine existing biases that feed systems of oppression. In light of the horrific events in this country that continue to unfold, and the latest terrorism in Charlottesville, Virginia, we would like to share resources that we hope will encourage all NCTE members to speak out against the racism and bias that have been a part of our nation’s fabric since the first immigrants disembarked from European ships.
Our Action Subcommittee has been working this year on creating classroom resources for teachers to use as statements of love and support. Printable classroom posters and bookmarks for NCTE members will be available at the 2017 Annual Convention, as well as available for download after Convention. Until then, we offer this incomplete resource to help continue the daily work that is antiracism. Please share other resources in the comment box below.
“I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” 
Elie Wiesel, Acceptance Speech on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, December 10, 1986

Resources for Working with White Students
 Raising Race Conscious Children
“A resource to support adults who are trying to talk about race with young children. The goals of these conversations are to dismantle the color-blind framework and prepare young people to work toward racial justice.”
“The First Thing Teachers Should Do When School Starts Is Talk about Hatred in America”
August 13, 2017, Washington Post article by Valerie Strauss
“The 2017-2018 school year is getting started, and teachers nationwide should expect students to want to discuss what happened in Charlottesville as well as other expressions of racial and religious hatred in the country.”
Dismantling Racism in EducationHeinemann Dedicated to Teachers Blog
Sara AhmedSonja Cherry-Paul, and Cornelius Minor talk about what racism looks like and how we can begin to break up the assumptions we make about racism.
Resources for Teaching in These TimesOn June 14, 2016, in response to the Orlando shootings, NCTE began collecting teaching resources from its members that continue to build in relevance given the ongoing struggles and critical conversations taking place across the country.
Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation“Race Forward’s mission is to build awareness, solutions, and leadership for racial justice by generating transformative ideas, information, and experiences.” Check out their video that explains systemic racism.
Curriculum for White Americans to Educate Themselves on Race and Racism—from Ferguson to CharlestonFrom Citizenship & Social Justice by Jon Greenberg
“One positive to emerge from these difficult times is the wealth of resources now available for White Americans. Never have I seen so many ideas, options, and concrete steps to take action against racism.”
White Fragility, Anti-Racist Pedagogy, and the Weight of HistoryFrom Black Perspectives by Justin Gomer and Christopher Petrella, July 27, 2017
“One cannot begin to comprehend the relationship between race and racism without historical investigation. A historically-grounded anti-racist pedagogy, rather than a psychologically-oriented one, allows us to see US society ‘in the act of inventing race.’”
This resource was contributed by Kristin BeersOnline PLC: Read Aloud as an Anti-Bigotry ToolSuggestions for using read aloud as an anti- bigotry tool with our youngest learners. This resource provides questions to prompt conversation, as well as a list of categorized titles that support this work.

Resources for Understanding White Supremacy
Southern Poverty Law Center“The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education, and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.”
Ten Ways to Fight HateTen Ways to Fight Hate, which has been updated for 2017, sets out 10 principles for taking action, including how to respond to a hate rally that has targeted your town. It urges people not to engage white supremacists at their rallies. Instead, it offers tips for creating alternative rallies to promote peace, inclusion and justice.”
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Confront AntisemitismResources on anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial and distortion
Oath and Opposition: Education under the Third Reich
“The Museum has developed . . . materials  . . . to help today’s educators explore the pressures teachers felt under the Nazi regime, the range of decisions individuals made in the face of those pressures, and the relevance of this history now.” (This rich resource includes a number of case studies you could use with your classes.)
Yad Vashem—The World Holocaust Remembrance CenterRead their working definition on anti-Semitism, which “encompasses both traditional and contemporary manifestations of antisemitism.”
Anti-Defamation League (ADL)“Founded in 1913, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is our nation’s premier civil rights/human relations organization. We have a distinguished history of reminding the world just how tenuous civil rights are and we mobilize people to engage in reasonable discourse as together we find solutions to serve our diverse society.” See their website’s extensive Education & Resources section as well as their definition and historical explanation of anti-Semitism.
University of Southern California Shoah Foundation Lesson Plans“Dedicated to making audio-visual interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides a compelling voice for education and action.”
Antisemitism and the Bystander Effect
“Students will watch testimonies from survivors of and witnesses to historical and contemporary antisemitism who describe the consequences of the bystander effect in their own lives. Students will construct a social media message for the #BeginsWithMe campaign that describes their own plan to counter bystander behavior.”
100 Days to Inspire Respect“At a time of heightened political uncertainty and polarization, middle and high school teachers are in need of easy-to-use resources that encourage their students to grapple with some of the most difficult but important topics: hate, racism, intolerance and xenophobia. ‘100 Days to Inspire Respect’ provides educators with 100 thought-provoking resources that tackle these challenging topics and more.”
The following book was recommended by Jenny Cameron PaulsenHitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
“By the time Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, 3.5 million children belonged to the Hitler Youth. It would become the largest youth group in history. Susan Campbell Bartoletti explores how Hitler gained the loyalty, trust, and passion of so many of Germany’s young people. Her research includes telling interviews with surviving Hitler Youth members.”

Charlottesville—Specific Resources
The Charlottesville Syllabus“The Charlottesville Syllabus is a resource created by the Graduate Student Coalition for Liberation to be used to educate readers about the long history of white supremacy in Charlottesville, Virginia. With resources selected and summaries written by UVa graduate students, this abridged version of the Syllabus is organized into six sections that offer contemporary and archival primary and secondary sources (articles, books, responses, a documentary, databases) and a list of important terms for discussing white supremacy.”
7 Ways Teachers Can Respond to the Evil of Charlottesville, Starting NowBy Xian Franzinger Barrett, AlterNet“As teachers, our job is not solely to pour mathematics, science, language arts or any other knowledge into the heads of our students. It is our duty to our profession, to our society and to the students to lovingly teach them to learn and grow as complete humans.”
How to Talk to Your Kids about the Violence in CharlottesvilleAugust 12, 2017, Los Angeles Times article by Sonali Kohli
Mental health experts and parents discuss developmentally appropriate ways to address the issues raised over the weekend.
#CharlottesvilleCurriculumA growing list of resources posted by educators from around the country.
Charlottesville Murder Suspect’s Teacher: ‘He thought Nazis were pretty cool guys’
August 13, 2017, ABC News article by Michael Edison Hayden

Resources for Understanding Bias
The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PISAB)“The People’s Institute believes that racism is the primary barrier preventing communities from building effective coalitions and overcoming institutionalized oppression and inequities. Through Undoing Racism®/Community Organizing Workshops, technical assistance and consultations, The People’s Institute helps individuals, communities, organizations and institutions move beyond addressing the symptoms of racism to undoing the causes of racism so as to create a more just and equitable society.”
Don’t Be a Sucker – 1947
“In this anti-fascist film produced by [the] US Military in the wake of WWII, the producers deconstruct the politically motivated social engineering of Germany by the Nazi regime.”
Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards“The Social Justice Standards are a road map for anti-bias education at every stage of K–12 instruction. Comprised of anchor standards and age-appropriate learning outcomes, the Standards provide a common language and organizational structure educators can use to guide curriculum development and make schools more just and equitable.”
The following  resources were contributed by Susi Long on behalf of the Early Childhood Education Assembly
Anti-Racism Educational Consultants Network
“The ECEA is honored to present a network of some of the country’s most respected professionals. They are experts in helping educators examine issues of race and racism in schools, childcare settings, and teacher education programs as they consider new possibilities for practice and policy. They consult widely, each with extensive experience in classrooms and with teachers, administrators, and preservice teachers.”
Resources for Educators Focusing on Anti-Racist Learning and Teaching“Our intent is to continue building and expanding this collection but we offer it now as a beginning, in support of educators working to (a) deepen understandings about institutional and interpersonal racism and its manifestations in early childhood settings, (b) understand the depth and breadth of histories often left out of or misrepresented in our teaching, and (c) apply new awareness to transforming practice and policy.”

Articles and Other Readings
“These [three] special themed issues [of NCTE journals] explore and demonstrate not only the physical violence that Black and Brown children and youth and young Black girls encounter on a daily basis but also the symbolic and linguistic violence and the spirit-murder that are inflicted upon the lives and humanity of our children and youth of Color. In addition, all of these special issues provide the field with practical lessons and pedagogies for teaching in our current racialized and gendered context.” – Lamar Johnson and April Bell
  1. From Racial Violence to Racial Justice: Praxis and Implications for English (Teacher) Education (a special issue of English Journal) Edited by April Baker-Bell, Tamara Butler,
    and Lamar Johnson
    “We come to this project bearing soul wounds and heavy hearts, anxiety and anger, tears and fire. We sifted through a series of events and melded our wounds into a project that could heal us, our families, our communities, and Black, Brown, and other marginalized youth affected by racial violence.”
  2. “Beyond the Dream”: Black Textual Expressivities Between the World and Me (a special issue of English Journal) Edited by David Kirkland
    “In the most basic sense, this issue is about acknowledging how Black textualities, like vulnerable Black bodies, are contested in American classrooms, complicated by competing interests that wrestle daily for an ethical place in the consciousness of English language arts. It is in English language arts classrooms, as this issue suggests, that Black textualities have the power to move our assumptions past beliefs that strip away the humanity of others.
  3. Black Girls’ Literacies (a special issue of English Education) Edited by Marcelle Haddix, Sherell McArthur, Gholnecsar Muhammad, Detra Price-Dennis, and Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz
    “We now must be urgent in interrogating hegemonic systems, English education practices, and educational policy to ask how we can experience a shift in the way we teach, talk about, and represent Black girls in school and society. In this way, English education becomes a site of possibility and disruption—a space to begin to ask these questions and respond.” – Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz
How Two Teenagers Created a Textbook for Racial LiteracyFrom Facing History and Ourselves by Stacey Perlman
“Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi started the student-run organization, CHOOSE, to overcome racism and inspire harmony through exposure, education, and empowerment. This led them to collaborate with Princeton University on The Classroom Index, a textbook devoted to racial literacy.”
21 International Books That Belong on Your High School SyllabusFrom a post on We Are Teachers by Michael Kokias
“Many high school courses tend to be dominated by American lit, but these international books deserve your consideration too.”
How America Is Failing Native American StudentsFrom The Nation by Rebecca Clarren
“When the United States signed its treaties with the Indian tribes, stripping them of their land, it promised to provide public services—including education—to tribal members in perpetuity. ‘For too long, the federal leadership has failed to honor that sacred pledge, leaving generations of Native children behind,’ said Washington State Senator John McCoy, a citizen of the Tulalip tribe and a national leader in Native education reform. ‘Institutionalized assimilation and racism remain embedded within our public schools.’”
This resource was contributed by Corinne Viglietta Essential Everyday Bravery: Thinking and Talking About Identity and Difference in Your Classroom”–a downloadable packet with 6 stand-alone lessons, 4 short scripts, 4 video clips, and 1 long list of more resources from Folger Shakespeare Library
The lessons were created by 10 excellent teachers, and designed to work in all kinds of classes with all kinds of students. These teachers are themselves people of different races, ethnicities, and religions, and they teach IB and AP, special needs, honors, and “regular” students in urban and suburban (mostly public) high schools in or near Washington, DC. These resources are also the product of CrossTalk, a yearlong community engagement project led by the Folger Shakespeare Library and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of their Humanities in the Public Square initiative. More info here
This resource was contributed by Emily SalinasDrop the I-Word Campaign
“Race Forward’s Drop the I-Word campaign to eliminate use of the word “illegal” was launched in September 2010 as anti-immigrant sentiment and hate crimes against communities of color had increased. Although the Associated Press, USA Today, LA Times, and many other news outlets and journalist associations have dropped the i-word, this racial slur in still being used in the media and everyday language.”
This resource was contributed by Melanie GustafsonClick! The Ongoing Feminist Revolution
“We aim to bridge the gap between those two clicks by offering an exhibit that highlights the achievements of women from the 1940s to the present. This exhibit explores the power and complexity of gender consciousness in modern American life.”
These resources were contributed by Jodi Derkson
Choose Your Voice (middle school)
Free online teaching resources and tools, curriculum-­based for grades 6, 7 and 8, to help students speak out against racism, antisemitism and intolerance.
Voices into Action (secondary school and college)
“Designed by curriculum experts, this program utilizes a wide variety of media to present compelling information on a history of human suffering, stemming from social injustice that is still a growing problem today. Explore thought-provoking issues with your students by accessing our lessons and resources on antisemitism, racism, discrimination and stereotyping.”
These resources were contributed by Nadia Kalman“For contemporary global literature from Mexico, Russia, and other countries currently in the political discourse, along with multimedia contextual materials and teaching tools, teachers might try Words Without Borders Campus. Here’s a link to a blog post on building inter-cultural empathy and understanding.”

Books for Teachers
All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald
Articulate While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S. by H. Samy Alim, Geneva Smitherman, foreword by Michael Eric Dyson
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
These additional book resources were contributed by Elaine Richardson
These additional book resources were contributed by Deborah Kelly

Books for Students
A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas
Drown by Junot Díaz
Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario
Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina
Krik? Krak! by Edwidge Danticat
MARCH: Book One  by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake
When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

Websites to Follow (for books for our students)
If you have resources you would like to add, please share them in the comment box below.  

How to respond to “riots never solve anything!” by Rafi D'Angelo

A word to all the pious people looking down their turned-up noses at all "those people," destroying things.  

-Angela Valenzuela

How to respond to “riots never solve anything!”

By Rafi D’Angelo | May 28, 2020

A quick roundup of things to say to Saltine Americans clutching their pearls over rioting and looting:
1) “Rioting never solves anything!”
This country was founded on rioting (and looting). The colonists didn’t politely ask to be independent — they started a war. Gays threw a brick. Black people rioted all over this country. Please let go of that falsehood and pick up a history book.
2) “Rioting just gives people a reason not to support your cause.”
Only if you equate property damage to human lives, and in that case, were you really supporting our cause anyway? If all it takes is people stealing from Target for you to say “well…now I don’t care about dead Black people” then why are we even speaking?
3) “The rioters are criminals and they don’t even care about police brutality stuff.”
There are criminals among us in every group, whether peaceful or violent, but the reasons riots break out are varied and complicated. Look at the pictures of Minneapolis before anyone ever threw a rock or started a fire or stole anything — the police firing rubber bullets and cans of tear gas into crowds of people who WERE peacefully protesting. What do you do when you’re frustrated and upset and no one is listening to you? Better yet, what do you do when they’re not only refusing to listen but actively trying to cause you physical harm to shut you up? Do you go home, stand there peacefully, or get mad and try to hurt them back? Does it really matter who you hurt at that point? Would you try to hurt someone in full tactical gear holding a weapon or would you try to hurt something like a multi-billion dollar business with insurance that probably contributed to the decimation of Mom & Pops in your community? Do you want to actually DIE in that moment or are you just upset and frustrated and at your breaking point and you want to smash something?
4) “Being frustrated is no reason to be violent.”
Everybody reacts to stress differently. I have no desire to riot. That’s not how my frustration at the world takes root. It doesn’t manifest itself as a roiling mass of energy that needs to be released, but I can understand how it could in others. Look at the situation.
— We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and many of the people on the front lines (making sure YOU can be comfortable at home) are Black people risking their lives for minimum wage, dealing with entitled white folks every single day.
— The virus itself is affecting Black people to a higher degree because we’re denied access to health services and we’re forced to WORK during it.
— Even in the middle of a pandemic when most of the country sat at home for weeks, civilians being murdered by police did not see a downward turn AT ALL. We’re on track for the same number of deaths we saw last year.
— All week, every day, a new video of Racism in America. From white women using the police as their personal security service to elderly women being tackled by cops with guns drawn to another Black man who can’t breathe, murdered by a cop who should’ve been fired a long time ago.
How do you feel about your country when people who look like you have to work through a pandemic, are dying in larger numbers from the disease, have the police called on them over a dog leash, are told they’re trespassing on property they pay rent for, are brutalized by armies of cops, and are killed in broad daylight for the crime of jogging?
How do you feel? How would you react? Regardless of how you would react, how can you tell someone else how they should? People are ANGRY. They have a right to be angry. And I can’t tell someone else how their anger should manifest. Because they are grown and TARGET HAS INSURANCE! I promise you Target will be just fine!
5) “Attacking an elderly disabled woman is a step too far!”
That woman is 30, she can walk just fine, and she went to Target armed with a knife to stab Black people. That’s why WHITE PEOPLE unloaded a fire extinguiser at her — because she was a violent maniac. On one side, people stole stuff from a big box retailer. On the other, someone STABBED PEOPLE UNPROVOKED, and yet your concern is whether anybody successfully stole a TV?
6) “There are better ways…”
Keep working on those better ways. Don’t let the riots stop you. Fight for criminal justice reform, fight for income inequality, fight for universal healthcare, fight for free education, fight for higher taxes on the 1% — fight for all those things that would make rioting less likely. And while you’re fighting the long, slow war toward Black people having a fair shot in this country, the same war we’ve been fighting for hundreds of years, there will be times when some people directly affected by the war see your actions as futile and they just wanna break some stuff. Clutch your pearls less and speed up the war if you’re so offended by property damage.
Venmo: Rafi-DAngelo
CashApp: $RafiDAngelo

On the 91-Year Anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre and the Ruthless Murder of George Floyd. Support Ethnic Studies

Today, May 31, 2020, in this moment of riots and cities on fire in the wake of George Floyd’s ruthless murder by white policemen a week ago on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is also the 99-year anniversary of the Tulsa Riots that took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on May 31, 1921 that destroyed what had been previously known as "Black Wall Street."

See CNN news 5.31.2020

I recorded this segment of Ali Velshi's MSNBC report because more than anything I've seen on the news in these days of a frightening and deepening crisis, it points to the importance of Ethnic Studies of which African American Studies is an essential part to both heal wounds and grow the kind of critical consciousness necessary to begin to un-do this historic legacy of white violence, symbolic and real.

N.B. Ethnic Studies additionally consists of Asian American Studies, Native American Studies, and Mexican American Studies with close affinities to Women and Gender Studies and LGBTQ Studies.

Since we know that curriculum reproduces consciousness, then Ethnic Studies has to be part and parcel to undoing this history and legacy of white supremacy, anti-Black and Brown violence, accompanied by the systematic erasure of the knowledges, histories, stories, and identities of all minoritized communities as if the white, European-American imaginary were first and foremost, superior and exceptional, to all others. As the widely broadcast events of the past week suggest, this colonial, oppressive relationship to our shared experience as subalterns is hardly without consequence to domestic tranquility and society, as a whole.

As the Velshi interview of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum below reveals, these arrogant and exclusive ways of knowing and being in the world that convert into lethal, structured silences are manifestly not sustainable. They never were.

Not only is no one harmed by Ethnic Studies, but all stand to benefit in the same spirit of the Biblical verse and widely-expressed adage, including at my institution, the University of Texas at Austin, that “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free."

Indeed, the potential of Ethnic Studies to begin undoing this venomous legacy of white supremacy and the systematic erasure and outright suppression of, and contempt toward, the knowledges, histories, stories, and identities of all minoritized communities, as a whole, strengthens the very possibility of living together peacefully on this planet.

To deny this history is to not only reproduce in durable ways white supremacy, but it also robs communities of color of their sense of agency, place in history, and opportunities for self-determination and well-being. They are further denied the very conceptual, experiential, and civic tools they need to defend themselves against this brutal regime of white, European supremacy whose first breaths on this continent date back to 1492, marked by ongoing campaigns, past and present, to commit genocide against native peoples, an agenda that horrifically continues into the present in many places, including in U.S. Indian Country and Brazil. This must end.

May this be a moment that ultimately proves beneficial not only for children of color via the teaching of Ethnic Studies and the truth of history, but for whites, as well, whose frequently caged consciousness of a false sense of entitlement in a world that validates their existence to the exclusion of all others, dehumanizes them, turning some—like Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin—into monsters that commit heinous crimes against humanity.

Do learn about the Tulsa Race Massacre and do consider deeply its connection to the current moment that is playing out in vivid color on our television screens and let's root out these ways of knowing and being in the world that have been, and continue to be, profoundly harmful to society and the planet.

On Tuesday, November 3, 2020, let's get the Hatemonger in Chief out of office. And let's all also extend our support for Ethnic Studies as it promises to be beneficial to all in ways that far exceed traditional measures of achievement to include the potential for the kind of societal transformation and enlightened consciousness that we desperately need in, and for, these troubled times.

I always say that someday, Ethnic Studies will just be called a "good education."

Peace and justice / paz y justicia,

-Angela Valenzuela