Connecting Kids to Discuss Racism

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“All educators have the civic responsibility to learn and teach the basic history and tenets of this movement for racial justice.” – Jamilah Pitt

To the PenPal Schools community,

PenPal Schools stands with the Black community in fighting for equality today while we continue our work to foster empathy and tolerance in tomorrow’s leaders. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others are not the result of a few “bad apples.” They are the product of a system based on a history of racism and injustice.

Below are resources that help to provide children and teens with historical and conceptual frameworks to better understand recent events. These resources also highlight civil rights leaders past and present to inspire our youth to work for a better future. PenPal Schools resources are provided for free to teachers and parents.

  • PenPal Schools’ Race in America topic connects youth ages 12 to 18 to learn about the history of racial discrimination in the United States. After an introductory lesson on Bias & Identity, students move chronologically from Slavery & Abolition to Jim Crow & Civil Rights, finishing with Race & Activism in the 21st Century. Along the way, students share ideas and perspectives through written forums and creative projects. This topic was created with the assistance of the Southern Poverty Law Center (a source of many excellent antiracism resources for youth and adults).
  • PenPal Schools’ Walking to Freedom topic connects youth ages 10 through 18 to learn about diversity, the history of of racial discrimination, and civil rights leaders from around the world. Students learn about leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Helen Joseph, Rosa Parks, and others. This topic was created in partnership with Via Afrika.

 

  • Teaching Tolerance provides free resources to educators—teachers, administrators, counselors and other practitioners—who work with children from kindergarten through high school. The program emphasizes social justice and anti-bias.

  

  • The Conscious Kid is an education, research and policy organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in youth through promotion of children’s books centering underrepresented and oppressed groups.

“During my PenPal experience my eyes were opened to topics that I haven’t put much thought into before, as well as communicating with people outside of my community about these rather sensitive subjects. I was given the chance to see these problems of racial discrimination and ostracism from a different perspective than my own. With every answer that was provided by my new friends that perspective grew wider, and wider, and by the end I came away with a bigger picture. That racial equality is unfortunately still a problem and the lack of tolerance of the preferences of others. However things are getting better. There are people that are trying to change this world for the better. People who see these problems and make change instead of waiting for it, but we still need more of these people. To find these people I believe all we need is to be educated in these topics, and they too will find the better perspective.”

– Royce from Michigan, USA
Read more quotes from Royce’s classmates

“As a classroom community, our capacity to generate excitement is deeply affected by our interest in one another, in hearing one another’s voices, in recognizing one another’s presence.”

– bell hooks, author, professor, feminist, and social activist
 
 
We at PenPal Schools recognize that the Black Lives Matter movement must feature Black voices and follow the lead of the Black community. We are humbled and grateful to support as we can, and we welcome feedback as we continue to learn (and unlearn) our role in the fight to eliminate racial injustice.
 
Joe Troyen
Founder, PenPal Schools



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