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Black History is Our History - Sharing resources that connect SEL to Black history throughout the year

18 February 2021 |

As you think about choosing Black history lessons, activities, literature, resources, etc, we challenge you to be thoughtful, intentional, and reflective. What is your purpose? Whose voices and experiences are you centering? What might the impact be on your learners, and in particular on your Black and multi-racial students? If you are not practicing self-awareness and social-awareness, you will, very likely, cause harm. Unintentional harm is still harm - and the impact matters much more than the intention.

Harm may be caused in many ways, included but not limited to:

  • Thinking neutrality is an option. There is no neutrality when it comes to oppression. You are either doing and/or saying things that are racist or doing and saying things that are anti-racist. Self-awareness, reflection, and continuous work are required to be able to see the moments when you are being racist to be able to learn and do better next time. Read more on this
  • Not having clear agreements and expectations in your class/learning space. These should be created with your students/children/youth, posted where they can be seen with regular reminders and periodic check-ins to see if they need to be modified and consistently upheld. If virtual, they should be shared at the beginning of your time together and/or set as your background and/or pasted in the chat every time you are together as a constant reminder. Read more on this
  • Focusing only on the difficult, challenging, and traumatic aspects of Black history. Black history is American history and ALL students/children/youth need to know the incredible culture, achievements, contributions, innovations, celebrations, and victories that are Black history. Read more on this
  • Separating Black history from your content and only talking about it during Black History Month. Read more on this
  • Simplifying stories so that you only discuss one moment of a person’s life or tell an inaccurate story. Rosa Parks is a great example - she is too often portrayed as an old lady who refused to give up her seat because she was tired after a long day of work. She was not a tired old woman. “The only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” She was an organizer, an activist, and a leader of the Civil Rights Movement. She was a brilliant, creative, and brave woman. She was not an ‘accidental activist.' Read more on this
  • Do your own research! Unlearn the simplified stories you were taught. Go learn stories, events, contributions, and triumphs that you don’t even realize that you don’t know. Read more on this
  • Being silent or shutting down conversations because they go in a direction that makes you uncomfortable. If a student/child/youth shares something you don’t know, listen and learn. Tell your truth and create a space for students to speak their truth and believe them. Model self-awareness and self-management for your students/children/youth. Read more on this

More do’s and don’ts of teaching Black history

View our Black history activities for every month! resource.

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