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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Resources for Teachers on Equality, Diversity, and Civil Rights

photo by Kiana Bosman on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

Here are a variety of resources you may find useful for professional development and in teaching different ages of students (from young children to university and adult education) about equality, diversity, and civil rights.

First, Here's My Personal List 

These are the resources that I've found most useful in challenging my assumptions and helping me see from different perspectives. Some of them are written for teens, which is helpful to me as a middle-aged White American woman trying to better understand youth of color.

  • Homegoing, by Yaa Gyasi: a novel-in-stories that shows, in alternating chapters, what happens to eight generations of the same family, in Ghana and America. 
  • Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds: a novel in short chapters of powerful narrative verse, about a fifteen-year-old boy's decision whether to murder the guy who killed his brother.
  • Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, by Kwame Mbalia: fantasy/magic realism/adventure story featuring a 12-year-old boy who's mourning the death of his best friend. He gets involved with traditional African gods and black American folk heroes. The story is quite moving, with occasional flashes of laugh-out-loud humor, especially from the irrepressible Gum Baby.
  • True Notebooks: A Writer's Year at Juvenile Hall by Mark Salzman: a novelist shares his own experiences as a volunteer teacher of teen inmates (who are predominantly youth of color), as well as the young men's own voices about their experiences before and during their incarceration.
  • With the Fire on High, by Elizabeth Acevedo: a novel about a black Puerto Rican teen mother in Philadelphia who's a gifted cook, loyal friend, and devoted granddaughter.  Emoni juggles responsibilities as a parent and student while navigating complex relationships with the father of her baby, her own absentee father, and a sweet boy who may become her friend or something more.
  • More Than a Month, documentary by Shukree Hassan Tilghman: "a 29-year-old African-American filmmaker, sets out on a cross-country campaign to end Black History Month... Through this thoughtful and humorous journey, he explores what the treatment of history tells us about race and equality in a “post-racial” America."
  • The Danger of a Single Story: TED Talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: "Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories... if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding."

Resources for Professional Development

for personal reading and reflection, and potentially for use in teacher training or professional development workshops

    Resources for Teaching About Racism and Social Justice

    I got some great suggestions from other teachers on the Mindful Teachers Facebook page. 
    • Teaching Tolerance was mentioned a few times. This is an excellent source for both classroom and professional development resources. (I've used this site both in teaching and in increasing my own knowledge of issues related to race & ethnicity, religion, ability, gender & sexual identity, etc.)
    • Education for Liberation Network: "a national coalition of teachers, community activists, researchers, youth and parents who believe a good education should teach people—particularly low-income youth and youth of color—how to understand and challenge the injustices their communities face."
    • The Marshall Project: "Nonprofit journalism about criminal justice": This isn't specifically for educators (and much of the content wouldn't be appropriate for younger kids), but it could be a valuable resource for teaching mature teens or in a university setting.
    • Planning to Change the World 2020-2021: A plan book for social justice educators from ReThinking Schools
    • (Another recommendation is Radical Dharma, which I included in last week's post on Buddhist Perspectives on Diversity, Discrimination, and Social Justice. ) 

    And here are a couple more sites with good resources for teaching different ages of students:

    Lists of Recommended Books for Kids

    I don't review children's books because my own teaching experience is mostly with older teens (16+) and adult education. Here are a couple of lists with recommended books, as well as a call to rethink the list of children's classics. 


    I hope these lists of resources are useful and thought-provoking. As always, use your own best judgment about what's appropriate to share with your students and colleagues. This means thinking carefully about:
    • what resources might be useful for your own learning vs. what's appropriate for sharing with others whose backgrounds may be different from yours; and
    • how safe your students or colleagues feel in sharing their own perspectives: this includes how comfortable they feel with you, with each other, and with your venue (your school/classroom space or online platform).

    About the Author

    Catharine Hannay is the founder of and the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance. (Sales of the book help me continue to run with no sponsorship or advertising.)


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