Use with Section A of the lesson on racial discrimination
Activity 1. Defining Race
· What is race? How would you define it? Write your response in
the space below:
Race refers to a group of people who share the same physical characteristics
such as skin tone, hair texture, and facial features. The transmission
of traits from one generation to another is a complex process that is
examined in a field of study called genetics.
why does race matter?
Race is a significant social issue because people use racial differences
as the basis for discrimination. Much of today's racism can be traced
to the era of colonialism that began in the 1400s. When Europeans began
colonizing Africa and the Americas, the white settlers adopted the idea
that they were superior to the other races they encountered. The false
notion that Africans and Native Americans were inferior (along with the
desire for economic power) justified the Europeans' taking land and enslaving
people. In this way, naturally-occurring racial differences became the
basis for systems of exploitation and discrimination.
Racism is the systematic practise of denying people access to rights,
representation, or resources based on racial differences. As you will
learn in this lesson, racism involves more than personal actions of individuals.
It is a thorough system of discrimination that involves social institutions
and affects virtually every aspect of society.
It's important to remember that racism is neither natural nor inevitable.
Through history, people of different racial groups have interacted and
co-existed peacefully. During the Middle Ages, for example, Europeans
looked up to the people of Africa and China, whose civilization and culture
were considered to be more advanced. As noted, however, these ideas changed
significantly during the colonial area.
As you learn more about race in this lesson, remember that racism is a
system people created -- and one that people can dismantle.
Activity 2: Reflecting on our beliefs and their sources
table below asks you to record the messages or images you have received
about race throughout your life, the values or judgments that come to
mind, and the sources of your beliefs. Complete the table individually,
then wait for additional instructions from your teacher.
What images come to mind when you think of this group?
What values or judgments do you associate with these images?
What is the source for these images, values, or judgments?
What impact do these images and judgments have on your behavior?
of my racial background
of other racial backgrounds
for this discussion:
· Use "I" statements only. Speak only of your own experiences,
thoughts, and beliefs.
· Speak honestly, but also consider the impact of your words.
· Listen to what your partner says, but do not ask questions. Do
not deny your partner's experiences by saying something like, "Oh,
come on, you don't really think that, do you?" The point of this
activity is to bear witness to your partner's experiences, not to debate
· What have you learned about race through these activities?
What thoughts or feelings come to mind as you reflect on the process of
learning about race?