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  Case: I Wish I Were Black!
As a teacher of 5th grade students, I try to make sure that my students have a good sense of all the people and cultures that make up this country. Last couple weeks, I paid special attention to the African American people who have made significant contributions to the US. We read a book written by Walter Dean Myers. We have studied scientists, writers, and political figures. Students were very engaged and interested in the content. Yesterday something happened that puzzled me. Three of my White students told me that they wished they were Black. This was not my intention when I planned all my lessons on contributions of African Americans. How should I address this issue?
Solution: (Rates are posted for this solution!)
Your studentsí comments only reflect that you have done an inspiring job of presenting historical figures who are African American. What your White students are experiencing is what Black students and other minorities experience frequently, which is the feeling that everything important must have been done by someone of another race and that their own race hasnít contributed anything. Consider how many times your African American students may have heard stories in American history and wished that they were White.
I use a Walter Dean Myers book called Harlem with my fourth graders when we are discussing the Harlem Renaissance and artists Romare Bearden, Benny Andrews, and Jacob Lawrence. It is really more of a collage illustrated poem. It takes a long time to work through the book because there are so many references that need explaining, such as illusions to slavery and the Great Migration, but it is a wonderful introduction to the treatment of African American artists in the 20th century.
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: Very good observation on how Black students must have felt learning about White history. As a parent, I am fearful of my own children feeling inferior when learning about White history and contribution and having to wait until February to feel their own race is celebrated. I agree the advancements of America should be taught in unison and not just highlighted during a certain month, but throughout the school year. In school, I always felt like teachers were saving something when February came around, because my attention was always diverted back to a time in August or September when we learned other facts, and I wondered why, why couldn't you elaborate on this invention back in September?
Rated On: October 19, 2014 1:26 pm
Rated By: ahubeT
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement Yes
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue Yes
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I never would have looked at it like that. But you are right, these students of different races are hearing about what white people have done and wish to be in their shoes.
Rated On: October 19, 2014 4:15 pm
Rated By: Sanubu
 
     
     
  Rating
The suggested solution is respectful of the individual (student) Yes
The suggested solution is relevant to the case Yes
The suggested solution is reasonable (easy) for the teacher to implement No
The suggested solution is likely to solve the problem/issue No
The suggested solution is original Yes
Comments: I agree with her thoughts on how she is sure Black students have often thought that they wish they were white when learning about a figure who did something great and postive. The importance is to shed light on accomplishments done, and not so much on the color of their skin. She gave her opinion and her own similar experience, but didn't give much of a solution.
Rated On: October 19, 2015 3:14 am
Rated By: uSezaV