According to Professor Howard Stevenson, racial literacy is the ability to identify and resolve racially stressful social interactions. It is a critical skill needed to understand lived experiences and interpersonal interactions under systemic and institutional structures. As educators, it is our responsibility to cultivate important skills and learning opportunities in the classroom. These discussions will not be easy, but they give a chance for all to reflect on critical issues affecting the United States today and in history. Discussing race and society and the lived experiences and interactions in our communities enables us to thoughtfully understand and learn from one another.
January 6, 2021, was a shocking moment for us all. Educators have been thinking how to best prepare lesson plans and facilitate discussions on what happened to the United States Capitol. Integrating racial literacy into the curriculum is not a magic bullet to solve systemic racism in education, but it is a necessary step in bridging important concepts, dialogue, and engagement on the topics of race and society. How do we incorporate racial literacy in our curricula and programs?
Here are some racial literacy resources to explore for consideration:
Racial Equity Institute
Racial Equity Institute’s bibliography contains more than 50 important titles to add to your library collection and/or to hold book discussions. These titles include Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis, How the Irish Became White by Noel Ignatiev, and Racism Without Racists by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva. These are some titles to consider, and check out this list to spark book discussions online.
The Diversity Style Guide
The Diversity Style Guide is “a resource to help journalists and other media professionals cover a complex, multicultural world with accuracy, authority and sensitivity.” What’s important about this guide is that it can expand inclusive writing practices to mitigate biases. This can be used as a reference guide. You may also want to explore the APA Style’s General Principles for Reducing Bias. These tools can be useful when you are teaching students how to conduct research, spot biases in search terms and in the research process, and incorporate inclusive writing practices. The goal is to ensure that your students are informed on how to write and describe accurately and clearly in their writing, and to avoid biases.
WNDB’s Resources for Race, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion
We Need Diverse Books’ Resources for Race, Equity, Anti-Racism, and Inclusion provides a helpful list of numerous resources such as reading texts, book recommendations, and organizations focusing on racial equity and justice. You may find additional titles to consider adding to your collection or to create book discussions on such important topics.
Facing History and Ourselves
Facing History and Ourselves “is devoted to engaging students in conversations about race and prejudice. Teaching strategies and sample lessons are available on the Resources page.” Teachers can use the resources and teaching strategies to teach students how to critically analyze texts and images, take a stand on controversial issues, and more. It’s a great site to develop teaching ideas and build on a racial literacy curriculum.
Picture Books for Children
20 Picture Books for 2020: Readings to Embrace Race, Provide Solace & Do Good by EmbraceRace: Even though 2020 is over, these books remain relevant and important. If you are looking for children’s books, consider this list. They can provide an effective approach for children to understand the impact of racism on society.
- Don’t miss our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Public Library webinar with Library Journal on Feb. 25, 2021, at 2pm ET—register here!
- Resources with racial literacy content for elementary/middle school-level students
- Thinking about Racial Equity in Libraries
- Public Libraries and Systemic Racism
- Promoting Information Literacy in African American Studies: An Interview with Research Librarian A.J. Muhammad
- Resources for Libraries Serving Immigrant Patrons
- Archiving the COVID-19 Stories from the Black Community: An Interview with Archivist kYmberly Keeton