Teaching Tolerance was founded in 1991 as a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center and is dedicated to reducing prejudice and supporting equitable school experiences for all children in America. It provides free educational materials, and its magazine is sent to nearly every school in the country. Teaching Tolerance materials have won two Oscars, an Emmy and dozens of REVERE Awards from the Association of American Publishers. Below is a list of resources that teachers and parents can use to help educate children about race, racism and police violence at a time when the country is reeling from a string of killings of black men at the hands of police in cities across the country, as well as the killing of five white police officers by a black gunman in Dallas. Anyone can access the program’s website here. It is reprinted with permission of Teaching Tolerance.
Editor’s note: This Web package was originally published in December 2014 under the title “Teaching About Ferguson: Race and Racism in the United States.” In the months since we first shared this resource, the number of people of color killed by the police has risen and the number of resources that support teaching about these incidents has grown. In light of this month’s shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, we updated this Web package to include external resources and newer Teaching Tolerance resources that address institutional violence more broadly. If you have suggestions for additional resources, please forward them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Eric Garner in New York City, Tamir Rice in Cleveland and too many others — along with the grand jury decisions in the earlier two cases — have caused waves of nationwide protest and appeals for stronger protections against police brutality. These events have also caused educators to seek resources on how to address these subjects in the classroom. These resources can help spur much-needed discussion of implicit bias and systemic racism, but they can also empower your students to enact the changes that will create a more just society.
Teaching Tolerance Blogs
- When Educators Understand Race and Racism. What is the fundamental outcome of educators growing their racial competence? Learning.
- Talking With Students About Ferguson and Racism. This teacher believes it’s crucial for white teachers like her to seek out productive ways to talk about race and racism with students.
- Students Are Watching Ferguson. At a time like this, educators can’t afford not to discuss Ferguson in the classroom.
- #dontshoot. The tragic loss of Michael Brown presents an opportunity to help students connect with our collective humanity.
- On This Day. As an organization committed to justice and equity, the similarities between the Watts Riots and the riots in Ferguson, Mo., after Michael Brown’s death compel us to point out that we do not live in a post-racial world.
- What We’re Reading This Week: Nov. 26. A special edition of “What We’re Reading This Week” featuring stories related to recent events in Ferguson.
- The Revolution Will Be Tweeted. This middle school teacher empowered his students to lift their voices in discussions about Ferguson and Eric Garner — by assigning them to tweet.
- After the Flag Comes Down. There was growing momentum to take down Confederate flags after nine people were murdered at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, S.C., but our work to denounce systemic racism cannot stop at symbolic markers.
Resources From Teaching “The New Jim Crow”
- Preparing to Teach “The New Jim Crow.” Strategies and methods that can prepare teachers to support students during conversations about race, racism and other forms of oppression.
- Lesson 1: Talking About Race and Racism. This lesson helps students learn to participate in open and honest conversations about race and racism.
- Lesson 7: Racial Disparity in the Criminal Justice System. How does mass incarceration function as a mechanism of radicalized social control in the United States today? What is “the age of colorblindness” and how does it attempt to mask racial caste?
- Lesson 8: Understanding the Prison Label. What is the long-term harm and wider impact of mass incarceration on people and communities of color?
- Lesson 10: Dismantling Racial Caste. What is needed to end mass incarceration and permanently eliminate racial caste in the United States?
Other Teaching Tolerance Resources
- On Racism and White Privilege. This article, one of our professional development resources, explores issues of race and white privilege.
- Test Yourself for Hidden Bias. This page defines the terms stereotype, prejudice and discrimination; includes a link to Project Implicit’s Hidden Bias Tests; and provides suggestions for ensuring that implicit biases don’t manifest in biased actions.
- Straight Talk About the N-Word. This article documents Teaching Tolerance’s interview with Arizona State University professor Neal A. Lester. Lester teaches courses and offers seminars on the n-word all across the country — and finds there’s plenty to talk about.
- The Gentle Catalyst. Afraid to teach about privilege? Three teachers show how it’s done.
- Ferguson, U.S.A. This feature story explains why hardships faced by communities in crisis are national issues worth teaching.
- “Let’s Talk! Discussing Race, Racism and Other Difficult Topics With Students.“ Talking with students about race and privilege is hard but necessary. Our new resource and webinar can help you find the words.
- Why Talk About Whiteness? This magazine feature story explores why we can’t talk about racism without understanding the social construction of whiteness.
- PD Café: Responding to Trauma in Your Classroom. This collection of suggestions and resources can help educators identify how to respond when trauma touches their classrooms — either directly or indirectly.
Related External Resources
- Teaching #BlackLivesMatter. This collection of resources from Teaching for Change offers a history of police brutality, commentary on the militarization of law enforcement, and multiple other thematic explorations of the ways in which institutional racism harms African Americans.
- Teaching About Police Brutality in the Classroom. An article from EmpathyEducates that captures how the author and a teaching partner helped students transition “from pain to poetry” in the wake of a local police shooting.
- Preparing to Discuss Michael Brown in the Classroom. Developed by D.C. Public Schools, this document includes suggestions for how to frame painful conversations, resources for educators who want to build their background knowledge and a protocol for engaging students. Although the material references Ferguson, it is relevant to all teaching about racial profiling or police violence.
- Talking and Teaching About Police Violence. A post from the blog Prison Culture that includes activities to assist educators in their conversations with students about the role of the police in society.
- How to Teach Kids About What’s Happening in Ferguson. Published by the Atlantic, this is a crowdsourced list of readings and resources that support teaching about race, white privilege and incidents of police brutality, as well as civil rights history and other related topics. Although the material references Ferguson, it is relevant to all teaching about racial profiling or police violence.
- #FergusonSyllabus. A collection of crowdsourced resources for teaching about race, racism and police brutality, submitted via Twitter and captured using Storify. Although the material references Ferguson, it is relevant to all teaching about racial profiling or police violence.
- Michael Brown. From Facing History and Ourselves, this blog post offers concrete suggestions for bringing the topic of unjust and violent death into the classroom in a way that helps students understand more deeply the role race plays in our society. Although the material references Ferguson, it is relevant to all incidents involving racial profiling or police violence.
- The Counted. Maintained by the Guardian, this is a database of people killed by the police in the United States.
- #CharlestonSyllabus. Compiled by the African American Intellectual Honor Society, this list of readings is designed to help educators discuss the June 2015 massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
- On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart. From the Pew Research Center, this article summarizes research about how white and black Americans view issues of racial inequity, including perceptions related to the police.
- Happening Yesterday, Happened Tomorrow. In this article from Rethinking Schools, a teacher recounts how she helped her students process a series of brutal police-related deaths while studying the historic connection between poetry and injustice.