Race is psychology, not biology” (W.E.B Du Bois)
You have decided to become part of a volunteer organization called Reading Partners. You will be assigned to a local public school to help a child learn to read and fall in love with language arts. You feel passionately about the book choices that your new student will engage with during your sessions together. You feel that you have the opportunity to inspire a child to become more empathetic by showcasing children’s books that impart messages of equity, hope, resilience, and opportunity. You are excited to show your new student books that look like ‘him’ or ‘her’. You know that books that they can identify with, afford an opportunity to imagine all of the possibilities of life – their dreams can be ignited or extinguished by the messages they receive. You want to light a fire that will burn bright as a beacon for their dreams. You remember hearing this adage: If you can see it, you can be it!
It’s late spring, 2020, (pretend it’s not in the time of Covid) and the day has finally arrived for you to meet the student that you will work with throughout the summer of 2020. It’s May 26th, the day after the George Floyd murder, and you are shook and saddened by the hideous event that has angered the entire world. You listen to the news and watch in horror the video of a Black man being suffocated to death as he pleads for his life. Systemic Racism is now a full blown sound bite that has stung and rung throughout the world. But, you know that Systemic Racism is not just a sound bite, it is a real pathogen rooted and reenforced by society. You know that Systemic Racism is a learned behavior. Racism is a social construct. As you wait for your new student to enter the school library, you ponder this idea: if systemic racism is a learned behavior, why can’t it be unlearned? Angry and passionate to problem solve, you ask yourself the following questions:
- How can I help rid the world of such vile and hateful sentiments that have ignited, strengthened, and unified White Supremacy.
- How can I be a change agent and power broker for social justice?
- Should I join the peaceful protesters?
- How can I help rid the world of the a different kind of pandemic spreading throughout a global society?
- How can I ‘get into some good trouble’ and eradicate the hate?
- How can I help grow the fertile seeds of equity, access, and representation for all people, regardless of the color of their skin they’re in?
- How can I matter in this mess I did not create?
- What can I do?
Your student enters the door to meet you for the first time and see the news feed you have been watching in disbelief on your phone. They are a 7 year old Black child with tears in their eyes. Before they tell you their name, they ask you this one question regarding the killing of George Floyd, “Why did that happen?” You answer by saying that racism is a social disease created by adults and you believe that children are the powerful ones who have the ability to get rid of this disease. A few other children come into the library to join you and your new student. They listen to your wise words. Soon, you have a circle of children from all races and colors sitting criss cross applesauce on the floor in from of you. A beautiful rainbow of children surround you.
Excited, inspired, engaged, and motivated to be a messenger for peace and power, in one clear and bright instant you have discovered the golden answer to the questions you asked yourself before. Now you know how to make that positive dent into the universe for a healthier humanity: How? You share a children’s book with a message worth sharing.
You pull out your backpack, the books spill out onto the floor, and this time, it is your tear that has spilled upon the first page. The pain and confusion shared by you and the children begin to heal with each new positive message read about ‘getting into some good trouble’, resilience, opportunity, and, hope. Empathy and love for ‘the other’ are the messages spoken though the pages of the books you have chosen. You have ignited the spark of compassion and empathy for a future generation. The magic of literature is the tool for fuel the imagination.
Eureka! You discovered gold.
Let’s Talk About Race (Lester, 2005)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zoDUJY9u9Jw (Links to an external site.)
Before She Was Harriet (Cline-Ransome, 2017)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_JZemL5SWI (Links to an external site.)
Freedom Summer (Wiles, 2001)
Mohammad Ali (Sanchez Vegas, 2019)
Uncle Jed’s Barbershop ( Mitchell, 1993)
Martin’s Big Word’s (Rappaport, 2007)
“I Too Am America” (Hughes, 1925)
“Letter to My Black Son” (Smith, 2017)
READINGS: EDUC 121 READER
1. “Reframing the Debate about Cultural Authenticity” (Bishop, 2003)
2. “Reflections on the Development of African American Children’s Literature” (Bishop, 2010)
3. “Black Power Children’s Literature: Julius Lester and Black Power” (Batho, 2021)
John Lewis discusses the definition of “Getting into some good trouble” (Spoiler alert: It’s an ACTION verb:))! It is taking an active stand to fight against social injustice.
- Focusing the lens upon social justice, Read the 6 books listed above to your new student (s).
- After each book reading, discuss how the message(s) inside the story connects with the following four (4) unifying themes: 1. ‘getting into good trouble’, 2. resilience, 3. opportunity 4. hope.
- List each book in order of importance (your choice ~ you are the teacher!:)
- Following each book title (remember to Italicize each book title with proper APA- see above as example ) discuss briefly how each book connects with the four (4) unifying threaded themes listed here: 1. ‘getting into good trouble’, 2. resilience, 3. opportunity 4. hope
- Include inside your discussions a practice in-text citation derived from the 3 articles found in your EDUC 121 Reader. Please have three (3) quotes total. 1. “Reframing the Debate about Cultural Authenticity” (Bishop, 2003) 2. “Reflections on the Development of African American Children’s Literature” (Bishop, 2010)3. “Black Power Children’s Literature: Julius Lester and Black Power” (Batho, 2021)Write a minimum of 200 Words from the vantage point of being the teacher for the Reading Partners Program. Respond to a Classmate’s Post with a minimum of 50 Words