Unity In Diversity
I’ve been working on putting together the Spring 2014 edition of the Community Unity Educational Resources Committee newsletter, and I’ll be blessed with a feeling of hope for the world — for a few days, anyway.
Community Unity formed in 1999 in Corydon, Indiana when the Klan announced it was coming to town. Visit this link to see what happened. Hint: It was good. The group has dwindled over the years, but it’s still providing support and services, including the newsletter, which goes out to all public and parochial schools, and is available at the library for homeschoolers. It’s also online, although a recent website revamp lost the archives, probably temporarily.
ANYWAY, here are the websites being recommended in this semester’s newsletter. I’m posting them here because I thought they were awesomesauce coolio.
It Really Is Spring
Time to read about butterflies. Mia Wenjen, also known as Pragmatic Mom, has a wonderful website that includes multicultural Children’s and YA book lists, educational games, and articles on education and reading. Check out her list of multicultural butterfly books for spring.
Diversity and Joy in Children’s Literature
Jump Into A Book is a great resource. From her multicultural book features to her posts and guests’ posts about books and accompanying crafts and/or recipes, this is a great place to find cross-discipline activities to make books come alive. The About page says, “Jump into a Book is a site about our love of children’s books and how we can incorporate them into our everyday lives through play, crafting, cooking, movies, games, traveling, and author visits.”
How Does Genocide Begin?
You might not be surprised to know it starts the same way bullying starts. Dr. Gregory Stanton, President of Genocide Watch, might well be talking about bullying when he says, “Genocide is a process that develops in ten stages that are predictable but not inexorable. At each stage, preventive measures can stop it.” The stages are: Classification (defining certain people as different), symbolization (name-calling, identifying something about others that “marks” them, adopting clothing or other signs to express superiority to the classified person or group), discrimination (denying the classified person or group equality, such as excluding them from conversations or social groups), dehumanization (identifying the classified person or group as less than fully human), organization (recruiting others to join one in the campaign against the classified person or group), polarization (ignoring mediators so people in the environment become divided into “sides”), preparation (the formulation of plans to hurt, exclude, or in some way negate the classified person or group), persecution (taking discrimination to a more harmful and direct level), extermination (through bullying, this can take the form of the victim’s suicide or withdrawal from the class or school, or the psychic extermination of the victim’s social withdrawal), and denial (blaming the victim, blaming others, denying wrongdoing).
The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum celebrates the contributions of African Americans to the adventure of flight. From the 1920s through the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II to today’s astronauts, the Smithsonian’s Black Wings site provides history, photographs, and classroom resources. Print out posters or access online interactive activities to bring pioneers of aviation into the classroom.
Mighty Girls? Mighty People!
If there’s anything objectionable about the website A Mighty Girl, it’s the emphasis on gender. It calls itself “The world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls.” With it’s lists of books, music, movies, characters, and parenting tips, it could just as easily claim to be an all-around resource for boys AND girls, even though its lessons feature women and girls of courage and character. After all, isn’t that what breaking gender stereotypes is all about: permitting both genders to appreciate the admirable qualities they share? If you can look past the “this is for girls” attitude of this excellent site, you’ll find a wealth of interdisciplinary resources, like the one for WOMEN HEROES OF WORLD WAR II: 26 STORIES OF ESPIONAGE, SABOTAGE, RESISTANCE, AND RESCUE.
Moving Beyond Stereotypes
The Representation Project began with Miss Representation, a film pointing out how the way women are represented in media shapes how women are perceived by others and how women perceive themselves. With a new film, The Mask You Wear, Miss Representation moves beyond that original purpose to focus the same attention on the damage done to boys and young men by presenting cripplingly narrow definitions of what it means to be a man. “The Representation Project is a movement that uses film and media content to expose injustices created by gender stereotypes and to shift people’s consciousness towards change.” Online tools and resources help start the conversation.
The Better World Club
Better World is a web site, a set of resources, a movement for compassion. You’ll find free resources to download and links to even more resources on over 60 social issues.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Imagine a character getting involved in one of these sites’ projects, and possible story lines coming from it.