by J. Luke Wood, Idara Essien-Wood, Frank Harris III, and Tina M. King.
An understanding of contemporary challenges facing Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) involves understanding systemic oppression and how racism manifests at the interpersonal level. In this lesson plan, we offer racelighting as one concept that explains how interpersonal racism impacts the daily lives and experiences of BIPOC. This lesson provides a framework for students to learn about race and racism through the lens of Racelighting. This plan can be easily adjusted to meet different target audiences, age groups, and learner types. When adjusting the plan, please consider that the most important outcome is for learners to understand that racism can make BIPOC doubt their experiences, knowledge, and perceptions.
The first step in the lesson plan is to educate students about what constitutes racelighting. The lesson plan begins with a video titled, “It could be: Racelighting.” The video provides a basic description of racelighting. The video addresses common stereotypes and distinguishes between active racelighting and passive racelighting. Here are the descriptions directly from the video:
The second step in the lesson plan is to see how experiences with subtle racism and overt racism can lead BIPOC to experience racelighting. Students will watch the story of Jacob, a young Black boy who experiences ongoing challenges with racelighting (e.g., being fed false messages that make him doubt himself). The video is designed to be divided into three main sections to guide discussion. This allows for better insight into the story and discussion on what is occurring. For more mature audiences, the video can be watched in its entirety.
The final step in the lesson plan is to allow students to process what they have learned and discussed. Time for processing is critical as the conversations are around topics that are typically not discussed. To support this processing, ask to draw on a piece of paper what Jazz does to stop Jacob from believing false things about himself. Provide students with paper, colored pens, and crayons. During the time students are drawing, do one-on-one check-ins with each student to ensure learning.
One point to consider is towards the end of the story, Jacob was being called names and ‘bumped’ by the other children. The teacher did not stop it and Jacob responded by pushing another child. To be clear, Jacob should not have pushed the child. While he was being racially bullied and tried to walk away, he could have responded better. However, the incident could easily have led Jacob to think the messages about him were true. So, a confirmation bias – of sorts – can occur when one starts to tacitly accept false information. One mistake or a series of small mistakes should not define a child.
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