Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Understanding Race: Are We So Different? – A Welcome Resource

Source: Race: Are so different?
We want to follow up our previous post on the topic of race with an excellent resource for educators. “Race: Are we so different?” was developed by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota. It was the first national traveling exhibition to tell the story of race through biological, cultural, and historical points of view. The exhibition was also the winner of the American Association of Museums’ Excellence in Exhibition Competition in 2008.

Although the exhibit no longer travels, its website is a treasure trove of resources for educators, and it does not shy away from addressing the topic head-on. "Race" seeks to explain the differences among people to reveal the “reality – unreality – of race.” It looks at it through three lenses: history, human variation, and lived experiences.

The interactive timeline of the history of race in the United States streams color-coded articles according to government, science, and society. Each opens to a detailed account for that event with related primary sources, links to other information, and a glossary of terms for that particular article.

Source: Race: Are we so different?
There are six components on the Human Variation page, prefaced with this quotation by biological anthropologist Janis Hutchinson: “When you begin to understand the biology of human variation, you have to ask yourself if race is a good way to describe that.”

Source: Race: Are we so different?
The exploratory topics include The Human Spectrum, Our Molecular Selves, Race and Human Variation, Only Skin Deep, Health Connections, and the Human Variation Quiz. Any one of these is a perfect opportunity for learners to explore and discover more, but the Human Variation Quiz tests the understanding as it relates to the concept of race, with ten true/false questions that might not be what many believe to be true.

Source: Race: Are we so different?
Perhaps the most powerful page for opening the conversation about race with kids is the section on Lived Experience, with a poignant statement by historian Robin D.G. Kelley: “[Racism] is not about how you look, it is about how people assign meaning to how you look.”

Source: Race: Are we so different?
The learning extensions in this section reflect a cultural point of view. Kids will get it. Two in particular are the Sports Quiz that tests the knowledge of facts and stereotypes, and the video segments exploring the standards of beauty imposed on today’s black girls on A Girl Like Me.

Source: Race: Are we so different?
We stand firmly in our commitment to lead the discussion regarding race as well as bias, diversity, and inclusion with our kids. The more open the conversation, the more likely we can help dispel associations with racial implications. It’s all about giving voice to the tough questions and concerns of our learners to serve the greater good.

Another resource recommended by Michael Schneider (@SchneiderMF) is Race - The Power of an Illusion from PBS.


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