Today, we’re going to build on the ideas of ascribed and personal identity that we’ve explored this week. As we talked about yesterday, the idea of race is ultimately a social construct. This social construct often influences how people perceive and prejudge us – our ascribed identity. Worse yet, it can lead to acts of extreme prejudice and injustice like the profiling experienced by Adama and Gurwinder in Patriot Acts. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why people are sometimes uncomfortable talking explicitly about race, leading to a “colorblind” approach to viewing society.
In today’s Moving Beyond PC lesson plan, we will start by discussing the difference between “colorblind” and “multicultural” discussions of society using the example of King’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington. When King famously said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” was he pointing toward a society where differences are never discussed, or one where differences are embraced? How do we combat racism, inequality, and prejudice without discussing race (or class, for that matter)?
To explore these and other questions, I’ve created an Anticipation Guide, which we will use in class to explore our opinions at the beginning and end of class. After completing the “before reading” column of the Anticipation Guide, we will focus on how these questions played out in the news surrounding a controversial topic: New York City’s Stop and Frisk policy. As a class, we’ll watch the PBS News Hour segment introducing this topic. If time allows, we can also watch a very moving short documentary on the NYTimes about Stop-and Frisk.
Then, in small groups, we’ll read articles representing two of the many sides of the Stop-and-Frisk debate: two teens targeted by “stop-and-frisk” the policy (Nicholas Peart and Linda Sankat) and Mayor Bloomberg‘s response to allegations of racial profiling. As we investigate these perspectives as a group, we’ll discuss how they support or go against our original opinions on the Anticipation Guide. Finally, we’ll mark whether our opinions have changed in the “After Reading” column as we have a whole-class discussion on whether it’s better to use a “colorblind” or “multicultural” approach as we discuss and fight against injustice. We’ll also talk briefly about how the “Stop and Frisk” topic relates to broader discussions of human rights.
I’ve been thinking about the “colorblind” question a lot as I reflect on how we as students, educators, and community members can work together to combat prejudice and injustice, especially in the week following the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. This is a complex issue, but I feel that it is a vital one to address as we work toward building a more just and equitable society – from CHS to Charlottesville and beyond. Feedback and reflections would be greatly appreciated as we revise this lesson for the future!