Sunday, January 15, 2012

MLK Day - Lessons

Many schools are out tomorrow, but I came across a great lesson that analyzes the language in MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech. The text of the full speech and a video are included in the lesson, and it is an excellent way to not only work with the ideas behind the speech but also the structure of it.

This day has seemed to lose its luster over the years (Arizona still refuses to acknowledge it), with many younger students questioning what all the fuss is bout. They take for granted classes of all races and restaurants where everyone can eat. They assume that racism is a construct and that we have moved past it.

And then a study reveals that African American students, boys especially, are disciplined more and more severely, receive less positive attention and earn lower grades than their white counterparts all the way through college. Anti-Hispanic discrimination is rising with the tide of immigrant law, and this issue is a major part of the presidential campaign.

We are not done; discrimination has become institutionalized and more subtle. It is not gone, and pretending that it is. shoving it underground or only acknowledging extremist groups as racists excuses the sneakier ways we are perpetrating racism daily.

We are different; this is not about homogenizing. Discussing issues of race (and class, so inextricably intertwined these days) helps us to understand others and, in doing that, ourselves.

We are not quite "free at last."

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