Black History Resource Round-Up
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Let’s be clear: Black history is American history and therefore should be taught all of the time. The reality is, for most students that is not happening. For many students, they get tiny does of a craft-based lesson with a smiling MLK Jr, or Rosa Parks. There is little talk of Black joy- mostly Black struggle (slavery, Civil Rights movement, etc….)
Those lessons must be taught as well, but we can’t stop there. Students can and should be exposed to incredible and amazing individuals that have helped shape the world we live in today.
Laurence Tan says that “if students are old enough to experience discrimination, then they are old enough to learn about it.” Research has shown that children begin to develop bias in preschool! I’ve seen it in my classroom, and I’ve consoled a nephew in kindergarten that wanted to be white because a classmate said he was “too brown to play” with them.
We’ve got to do better as a whole. Let’s be honest: we cannot deny our role as classroom teachers in this. We can facilitate conversations, guide students through misconceptions, and be a listening ear. Start now.
What narratives have you taught year after year? Are they accurate and true? Or are they white-washed and safe? Ask yourself a critical question: who are we helping when we only give students the shiny and comfortable version of history?
Why are we so obsessed with making sure that history feels good? Some parts of history were good but a lot of it wasn’t. A lot of it was sad and upsetting. A lot of it has a direct correlation to events, attitudes, and access TODAY. The truth will not harm our students- but withholding it will.
I’ll leave you with a quote that appeared on the amazing website, Teaching Tolerance. All students should engage in lessons that center black people whose narratives aren’t always steeped in oppression and struggle. They created. They built. They were revolutionaries. Show students that black people throughout American history—and throughout world history—have always had full human experiences. Black history isn’t a tragedy, and teaching and learning it can and should be a celebration.” Coshandra Dillard