Education Toolkit: Black Lives Matter

This post is a work-in-progress as folks share other resources with me. It contains three parts: The Story, The Reason, The Resources.

The Story

I shield my children (ages 7 and 9) from the news because I want them to hear it from me, not the media.

But when I said “I have something I need to talk to you about,” my 7 year old, who is black, groaned and covered his eyes. “Did something bad happen to another black person?” he asked me.

“Is that going to happen to me?” he asked me.

“I’m scared,” he told me.

My answers, my responses, were powerless and furious: Yes. I hope not. Me too.

No mother should have to look her son in the eye and say “I hope not” instead of “No. That could never happen to you.”



The Reason

One of the problems with processing these events in the summer months is that I am not with you, my beloved students, and I can’t help you.

  • For those of you hurting and grieving, I can’t hold your hands and hug you and listen to your justifiable rage and tell you I’m on your side.
  • For those of you who are more distant from the experience because of privilege, I can’t help you think critically about what’s happening. I can’t help you access resources and articles that can inform your understanding about these terrible events.

So I’m putting together some resources here. These are mostly aimed at my white students, since I know most of my black students are likely engaged, aware, and more in need of hugs than words.

The Resources

(* indicates top-recommended resources and [own voices] indicates a resource authored by or attributed to a person of color)

  • newIf you haven’t seen the Jonathan Bachman/Reuters photos out of Baton Rouge, particularly this one and this one, it’s time to take a long look.

  • Good Bones and Let’s Not Begin, two poems by Maggie Smith that might help with the emotions we are all feeling; they sure helped me.
  • Those students from Christian faiths may also find this prayer litany helpful. If any one has prayers or reflections that might be helpful for students from Jewish, Islamic, or other traditions, please let me know. You can use the contact form here or tweet me @AliBG.

For Breaking News

Follow Deray McKesson (@deray) on Twitter. He is an educator turned activist, and his arrest record suddenly looks startlingly like Dr. Martin Luther King’s. He’s also on Instagram (iamderay) and Snapchat (derayderay) and Vine. [own voices]

Follow Teen Vogue (@TeenVogue) on Twitter. Despite their title, they were the media outlet writing about Deray McKesson’s arrest as it happened.

Other Additions From Comments and Email:

A student emailed to say he thought this NYT article about Dallas police Chief David Brown might help explore the perspective of officers feeling scared and overwhelmed, too.

A teacher-friend suggested I add:

  • *Ta-Nahesi Coates’s book Between the World and Me [own voices]
  • All American Boys by & [own voices]
  • The Ballad of Birmingham” (which some of you have already studied, but deserves a re-read in light of the last few weeks)

Another educator on Twitter suggested “On The Subway” by Sharon Olds, though I should warn that it has the potential to be triggering at the outset because of a set of assumptions the speaker makes. However, it lands where Ta-Nahesi Coates begins.



One thought on “Education Toolkit: Black Lives Matter

  1. I may not technically be one of your students, but that doesn’t mean I don’t learn from you. No matter how much we would like to, I think it is very hard for those of us who come from privilege to understand the hurt, the fear and the anger that a black person lives with every day.
    My heart is breaking for what is happening in our world right now (and for a long time leading up to right now).
    I may be a very small cog in a very big wheel, but I appreciate any help I can get to begin to be a part of the solution.
    Thank you for compiling these resources. Many of them I have already seen – the rest I will be sure to look at.

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