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Re:[teacherartexchange] lesson idea: race (digest: Dec 26, 2005)


From: Curt James (curtjames_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Wed Dec 28 2005 - 06:19:53 PST

> 4. lesson idea: race
> Subject: lesson idea: race
> From: wendy free <>
> Date: Tue, 27 Dec 2005 11:25:53 -0800 (PST)
> X-Message-Number: 4
> hope everyone is enjoying the holidays! wanted to
> share some things i've been intrigued and inspired by
> - this came first:
> which led me to this:
> (scroll down to "white in america"
> and this artist:
> i understand this can be a tougher "theme" to navigate
> for some but it is extremely important for us to
> consider. i'm lucky to teach in a racially diverse
> high school and am looking forward to engaging my
> students directly with these resources. am thinking
> of a composition that includes painted colors, text,
> and collage focused on personal feelings/experiences
> relating to race and skin color. anyone up for
> discussion?
> :D wendy free

I'm up for discussion re feelings/experiences relating to race and
skin color. My students are racially diverse. I teach in two
inner-city schools where the majority of students are Hispanic and
African American. There are often examples of name calling related to
skin tone. In fact, during my early days of teaching - as a substitute
teacher - I heard a girl tell a boy (both children African American),
"I will slap the black off you!"


/What did she just say?/

In the one school where I am currently teaching, I have heard children
refer negatively to their classmates regarding their skin tone or
degree of blackness: "You're all black!"

My response varies as much as our skin tones. Often, the retort is a
comment between friends and, perhaps, not deserving of the full
lecture, however, I make known to the students that the value range
often isn't so extreme among the individuals in our class and that it
is unacceptable to diminish the worth of a classmate based on
something as superficial - as literally skin deep - as our skin color.

Pride, however, is an important characteristic to develop in students.
In my classroom there is a globe, a large map of Africa (taken from a
relatively recent copy of National Geographic), a flag of Puerto Rico,
as well as cartoons offering various art instruction and depicting
cartoon characters of intended African American and Hispanic
appearance. Two popular cartoon characters I include in my instruction
are Quiet Man and Loud Man.

Both are simplistic - Quiet Man has a large Q on his chest while Loud
Man has LOUD MAN screaming across his superhero costume. Both are
recognizably black. Q has a huge afro and a Lone Ranger mask while L
has close-cropped hair with a sculpted hairline and an ear adorned
with a hoop earring.

Although I have created the cartoons as being recognizable as black,
they are not disrespectful stereotypes. Using these characters has
created an interest in cartooning which leads into a variety of lesson
plans - contour line drawing, blind contour, self-portraits, etc.

I am caucasian and am grateful to be teaching in a racially diverse
and culturally rich environment. I believe it would be wonderful to
develop a series of lesson plans related to the skin we find ourselves

Thank you for initiating this thread, Wendy.

Curt James

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