You can write this on the board as an example, perhaps showing the class how they could use the second-person “you” to tell this story, rather than the more typical first-person “I.” This step could also be a composite story, with several people contributing sentences. Offer that “Maybe you were the one being mean one time,” and ask if they can remember a time when this was the case. Ask, “How do you think the other person might have felt? The Walk by Lya Justice Steele You were in your house. Ask the class to notice how, throughout the poem, the speaker uses the second person, calling herself “you.” Ask them why they think she does this.
Ask the students if they have ever had the experience of having someone say something to them that made them feel “small” or “different” or “not as good as?
” Or maybe someone just didn’t notice them, as if they weren’t there. Presentation of and explain how the work, by African-American poet Claudia Rankine, explores the pervasiveness of racism in American culture—not just the violence discussed earlier, but also the small, routine slights experienced by minorities in this country every day.
You can summarize, for those unfamiliar with these names, by saying that these were unarmed people of color who were killed—most by the police—in racially-charged encounters.
(It might be good to put a time-limit on this discussion, which could easily go on for a while, to make sure you leave enough time for rest of the lesson.) Emphasize to the class that even though the names listed above are those of people who were killed, many small interactions happen all the time that don’t end in violence but can also be very damaging to people’s self-esteem or feeling of well-being.
We are trying to show how the bad feelings start, rather than how they escalate into violent actions.
And remind them that all the usual rules of good writing apply: using metaphors or similes and plenty of sensory details. At the time I was developing this lesson, I was teaching at James Monroe Elementary, a K–6 school in Santa Rosa, California.The school is about 92 percent Latino, with the remaining 8 percent composed of white, black, and Asian-American students.Ask the class to think deeply about times when they have been made to feel different, or “less than,” whether because of their race or some other factor.Tell them that everyone, at some point, has probably experienced this feeling: If you think it would be helpful, you can give the class an example from your own experience.” Or you can tell your students they might choose to write about a time when someone was kind and made them feel better. If students are having trouble getting started, you can provide some of the following starters: are used to hurt (or help) us. Miley Cyrus by Alexis Hernandez Abundis People call me Miley Cyrus, even though I am a boy. by Phyllis Meshulam My heartbreak over the unnecessary death of Trayvon Martin was far from healed when news of the fatal shooting of a local California teen, Andy Lopez, created fresh rupture.In the midst of the horror and helplessness I felt, I was grateful to come upon Claudia Rankine’s book Of course the book confronts us with another form of injustice: the everyday violence of constant slights and micro-aggressions that people of color are still subject to in this country.Give students time to look at the images in the book. ” If you like, you can also share some of the student poems I’ve included below. Pre-Writing Tell the students you would like them to write their own prose poems—inspired by Rankine’s work and Toni Morrison’s images in feel bad, small, inferior. Ask for a volunteer from the class to share an experience.