Order Teaching for Black Lives, edited by Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian, and Wayne Au
Teaching for Black Lives is officially released today by Rethinking Schools and I couldn’t be more hopeful for it’s impact on schools around the country.
I have spent the past many months in collaboration with two other leading anti-racist educators, Professor Dyan Watson and Professor Wayne Au, writing and editing this book to bring alive Black excellence and struggle in the classroom.
This beautiful full color book is a compilation of essays, teaching activities, role plays, poems, and artwork, designed to illuminate, the movement for Black student lives, the school-to-prison-pipeline, Black history, gentrification, intersectional Black identities, and more. As we write in the introduction to the book,
We recognize that anti-Black racism constructs Black people, and Blackness generally, as not counting as human life. The chapters in Teaching for Black Lives push back directly against this construction by not only providing educators with critical perspectives on the role of schools in perpetuating anti-Blackness, but also by offering educators concrete examples of what it looks like to humanize Black people in curriculum, teaching, and policy. Throughout the book, we demonstrate how teachers can connect the curriculum to young people’s lives and root their concerns and daily experiences in what is taught and how classrooms are set up. We also highlight the hope and beauty of student activism and collective action.
Leading educators, intellectuals, activists, and artists have contributed to this collection including, James Baldwin, Michelle Alexander, Eve Ewing, Bill Fletcher, Renée Watson, Monique Morris and many more.
And the book couldn’t have come out at a more important time.
To start, given that I am about to begin teaching a unit on Black history for my ethnic studies class on Monday, I am personally excited to use the book right away in my classroom. But beyond just my four walls, this book is being released in the wake of the police killing of Stephon Clark, an unarmed Black man in Sacramento California. The book is also coming out in the wake of the release of the video showing Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood saying that it was “better financially” to kill suspects than wound them, saying, “Because if you cripple them you have to take care of them for life and that cost goes way up.” And it’s coming at a time of resurgence in activism in the streets against police terror of Black communities.
But the attack on Black people isn’t only of their bodies.
As Teaching for Black lives points out in the introduction of the book, the attack is also on their minds: “From the north to the south, corporate curriculum lies to our students, conceals pain and injustice, masks racism, and demeans our Black students. But it’s not only the curriculum that is traumatizing students.” And as Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, author of From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation writes of Teaching for Black Lives,
In this edited volume, we learn that Black Lives Matter is not just a rallying cry in the movement against police abuse and violence but it is a critical framework for understanding the persistent attacks on public education.
Teaching for Black Lives is also coming out not long after of the first national Black Lives Matter at School week of action and it helps to chronicle the development of this movement. This action during the first week of February 2018 saw thousands of educators and students across the country teach lessons around the 13 themes of the Black Lives Matter Global Network with the demands of:
- Hire More Black teachers
- End Zero Tolerance Discipline; Institute Restorative Justice
- Mandate Black History and Ethnic Studies
We bring you this book with the hopes that it will become a precious resource to educators seeking to empower students in a struggle for their lives and to anyone who is interested in joining the struggle to defend the bodies and minds of Black youth.
Order Teaching for Black Lives today. Then encourage your community to do the same by sending out this announcement for the book to your union leaders, school principal, education reporters, educator Facebook pages, and beyond. Follow the discussion of the book on social media at #Teaching4BlackLives, or if you have press inquiries, get in touch with our managing editor, Ari Bloomekatz, at: firstname.lastname@example.org
As Teaching for Black lives co-editor Dyan Watson said of the reason she helped produce the book,
I have two Black sons. For me, this collection is about their survival, and the survival of children like them throughout the United States. Teaching for Black Lives is a handbook for all educators, students, and families who truly care about Blackness and the intersections of learning, teaching, and race.
Jesse Hagopian teaches Ethnic Studies at Garfield High School. He is an editor for Rethinking Schools magazine, The Seattle Fellow for The Progressive magazine, and blogs at www.IAmAnEducator.com. Jesse is the co-editor of the book, Teaching for Black Lives. and editor of the book, More Than a Score: The New Uprising Against High Stakes Testing. You can follow Jesse on Twitter, @JessedHagopian.