Higher ed needs to embed curricula that provide the history of racial injustice to help students grapple with current events and to prevent bigotry. “There are many people who are surprised when they see events transpire like the George Floyd protests, but if they were students of history and understood past social movements, they would know that this isn’t new,” says Williams, who recommends the works of James Baldwin. “He wrote beautifully about the turmoil in the U.S. and why people really need to grapple with race and racism.”
In particular, Williams recommends James Baldwin’s “The fire next time,” a 1963 nonfiction book containing two essays. The first discuss the central role of race in American history through a letter that Baldwin wrote to his 14-year-old nephew. The second deals with the relations between race and religion, most especially the experiences that Baldwin experienced in the Christian church as a youth and the Islamic ideas of others in Harlem.
Lesson plans should also develop the social-emotional skills of students of all races, not just one. “Failing to include everyone is what creates an us versus them mentality,” says Williams. “It has been difficult to witness and to experience these moments in our history, but they are important for us to learn to help us move forward. We need to think about how we can get there together.”
Williams encourages educators to use the following:
- Cultural-Sustaining Pedagogies whose authors say schools need to sustain cultural practices of communities of color and who provide examples on how to support students of all backgrounds to create educational justice
- Toward A Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, an article that includes eight pedagogical practices of eight teachers who instruct African-American students