Monica Brown is the author of several award-winning children’s books, including the Marisol McDonald series, and is a Professor of English at Northern Arizona University. Brown recently spoke to KNAU Public Radio about the power of dehumanizing language after a politician used the word “deportable” to refer to an immigrant. She has allowed us to reprint her comments below, and you can hear her radio segment here:
Deportable. The prefix de signifies removal, separation, reduction or reversal, as in deforestation or demerit. De reverses a verb’s action, as in defuse ordecompose. De is not often used with a noun, but it was last week. That’s when Republican Representative Steve King referred to one of First Lady Michelle Obama’s guests as “a deportable.” He tweeted it.
What an amazing week to see the response of last Sunday’s post and hear what many of you are facing, doing, and aspiring to in schools and communities. In addition to using children’s books to initiate conversations, deepen background knowledge, and humanize the events, here are eleven teaching resources to help you provide the best information, context, and perspective for your students.
Colorín Colorado is a free bilingual service that presents information, activities, and advice for educators and Spanish-speaking families of English Language Learners. One of my favorite sections is “Reaching Out to ELL Students and Families” because it gives explicit tools on how to create a welcoming classroom environment, learn about our students’ backgrounds, and reach out to parents of ELLs.
Educators For Fair Consideration (E4FC) offers educator guides to support teachers and school staff in supporting undocumented students in school and beyond graduation.
Colorlines contributes award-winning daily reporting, investigative news, and analysis on issues of race with a subsection devoted to child migrants. They also have a campaign, Drop the I-Word.
As media coverage has intensified around the events of children crossing the U.S. border, many educators and families are wondering, “What should we tell our students?” For some children, this may be the first time they are learning of these countries. But for many others, these events may involve their own heritage or depict their families’ experiences. Using books to talk about the recent events can be an opportunity to learn about a new region and help children see the cultures and people beyond these events.
We’ve put together a list of 11 books (many of which are bilingual English/Spanish) that teach about the emotional journey families and children must undertake along with the physical journey. These stories allow children to see each other and themselves in characters who are living life to the fullest and refusing to let any obstacle stand in their way.
Whether you are looking to explore the themes of the DREAM Act, learn more about the journey of one’s own family, or see America from a different angle, these books reveal the complexities, challenges, joys, and surprises of coming to a new place. Join these characters as they share their challenges and excitement in moving to a new culture and new school, helping their families adjust, and juggling their home culture with a new culture.
Jaclyn DeForge, our Resident Literacy Expert, began her career teaching first and second grade in the South Bronx, and went on to become a literacy coach and earn her Masters of Science in Teaching. In her column she offers teaching and literacy tips for educators. This is the third in a series of posts on thematic text sets.
One aspect of the Common Core that I get asked questions about all the time is thematic text sets. What are they? How do you know which books to use? What types of texts should you be pairing together?
Fear not! I’ve compiled some examples of text sets that cover one topic and span multiple genres and reading levels. Some of the titles you may already have in your classroom library, and others I think you’ll enjoy discovering. In my last two posts, I compiled books about the moon and books about Kenya. Today we look at books about immigration:
Loved Under the Mesquite? For a limited time, we’re sharing the first three chapters of Belpré winner Guadalupe Garcia McCall’s next book, Summer of the Mariposas, out in October! Summer of the Mariposas is a YA retelling of The Odyssey about five sisters who embark on a road trip through Mexico to return a dead man to his family, and come face to face with some monsters of Mexican folklore along the way. Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
I love comedy. Not doing comedy, but watching comedy, either in film or stand-up. Laughter is good for the spirit.
I like all kinds of comedians—from early Bill Cosby to Jon Stewart. I especially enjoy comedy that makes you think. Comedy can broach taboo topics like racism and stereotypes and make them fair game for open commentary. If done well, these comedic monologues on race can reveal the absurdity of people’s belief systems.
I searched YouTube for examples of race-based comedy that strikes a nerve and found a wide gamut. Will some of these clips offend some people? Maybe. But if you can push yourself outside your comfort level, looking past the profanity and at times crude subject matter, seriously (or humorously) consider what the comedians are trying to do. Are their jokes healing, even when they point out painful truths? Does a line exist, even for comedians, that should never be crossed, or can anything be made fun of in the context of comedy? Is it easier for a comedian who is a person of color to incorporate race in his/her act?
Oh, Arizona. Why are so many things happening in your beautiful state lately that give us reason to talk about you in these roundups? This time around, it’s a mural featuring the faces of local schoolchildren—but the schoolchildren are a diverse crowd, the mural was drawing racist slurs, and the school’s principal asked for a prominent Latino face to be lightened on the mural. He’s since reversed the decision, and the mural will stay. The Atlantic Wire has a good summary of the situation and the response to it.
The repercussions of Arizona’s anti-immigration law are still rippling outward. RaceWire elaborates with a look at the disappearing schoolchildren, as parents, particularly illegal immigrants, are keeping their kids—often natural-born citizens themselves—at home to protect the family.
Before we launch into this week’s roundup of race and diversity links, I’d like to make a plea: help your local library. Many around the country are facing massive budget cuts, so let your elected officials know that your library is important. New Yorkers, NYPL has a handy form to help you contact your City Council member and the mayor, in the hopes of preventing massive service cuts, including closing ten branches and limiting the library to four open days per week.
Now, to diversity!
White people adopting children of color is discussed relatively often, but Charles Mudede looks at the other side: what it says when a black person adopts a white child.
We’ll ignore the fact that they wouldn’t save money because they would lose their Federal transportation funding if they only offered the test in English. We won’t ignore that it’s racist; it’s barely-coded anti-immigrant rhetoric, and in the current political climate, anti-immigrant rhetoric is barely-coded anti-Latino rhetoric. And “If you want to live here, learn [English]” adds another layer: the implication that immigrants and minorities are lazy. Learning a new language and adjusting to a new culture are not easy things, and needing a driver’s license before needing English fluency is practicality, not laziness.