The students we teach must start where they are. Many of my preservice teachers in Louisiana, while they lived in the south, they lived fairly segregated lives. Their parents sent them to private schools or white flight schools that while integrated, did not represent the racial balance of the larger area. Many students wanted to work in predominantly black schools but often met their student teaching placement assignment with a good measure of trepidation. We talked, they read, they often worked with experienced teachers who were confronting racial issues, and they made progress as they engaged with students who where different.
The struggle for civil rights is real and ongoing. Black Lives Matter do matter. If you don’t buy their argument, I don’t have enough time to persuade you in this post. It is widely discussed from a variety of positions throughout the web. Be open-minded; imagine that any position or privilege you might hold is capable of being scrutinized and re-positioned. Reading, for me, has always been a powerful vicarious experience. Books matter and reading matters in the lives of our students. If you teach students at any level and haven’t done a short book talk in awhile; please do it the next time you meet your students. Consider: Brown Girl Dreaming, How it Went Down, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Monster, The Watson’s Go to Birmingham 1963, Copper Sun, The Skin I’m In, Crossover, We Were Here, Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, American Born Chinese, Inside Out and Back Again, and Everything, Everything. In addition, you should ignore nonfiction and Blood Brother should be at the top of the list.