Racial Justice

BlackLivesMatterRacial Justice

WEAC supports the Black Lives Matter movement and urges WEAC members to examine the concepts of equal justice under the law, racial justice and institutional racism. This page provides some background on the Black Lives Matter Movement and links to resources on racial justice.

What is the Black Lives Matter movement? When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state. We are talking about the ways in which Black lives are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity.

Teaching the New Jim Crow. Author Michelle Alexander has compiled this set of materials to support high school teachers who want to explore the myriad issues surrounding race and justice in our society, and to use her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, as a resource. The curriculum – made available through the Teaching Tolerance website – is specifically designed for students in grades 9-12.

Racial profiling curriculum and resources (NEA). With the heightened national attention created by the death of Michael Brown, NEA believes that we must raise awareness and create dialogue about the problem of racial and ethnic profiling nationwide. We believe that this dialogue must happen in our schools and communities, amongst parents, educators, and with our youth. To help create this dialogue, NEA has joined a curriculum workgroup with the NAACP, Not In Our Town/Not in Our School, Teaching Tolerance/Southern Poverty Law Center, The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Human Rights Educators of the USA (HRE-USA) Network, and Facing History and Ourselves. The workgroup has identified and/or developed the materials below to help educators, parents, administrators, and youth address the problem of racial profiling. These materials include tips for youth on how to interact during encounters with law enforcement.

Diversity Toolkit: Social Justice (NEA). Social justice refers to a concept in which equity or justice is achieved in every aspect of society rather than in only some aspects or for some people. A world organized around social justice principles affords individuals and groups fair treatment as well as an impartial share or distribution of the advantages and disadvantages within a society. Social justice includes a vision of a society in which the distribution of resources is equitable and all members are physically and psychologically safe and secure. Social justice involves social actors who have a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility toward and with others and the society as a whole. (Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, Adams, Bell, Griffin, 2nd ed., Routledge 2007).

Diversity Toolkit: Race and Ethnicity (NEA). Teaching about race and racism in the United States is a complex and emotional process. While many of us think of race as fixed categories – Asian, Black, and White, for example – many scholars have noted that race is not a biological category, but an idea, a social construction, that people use to interpret human differences and justify socioeconomic arrangements in ways that benefit one social group over another (Adams, Bell, Griffin 2007).

Race and Schools: The Need for Action (NEA). Gary Orfield, from the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles, University of California–Los Angeles, writes: “In a nation with 44 percent non-white students and extreme inequality in educational attainment, it’s time we address the issues as seriously as we did during the Civil Rights Era.”

Social justice activism is forming a more perfect (and enduring) union (NEA). This NEA Today article takes a look at the growing movement of social activism among members throughout the country, including Wisconsin. “The union appeals to me because the union provides me with a platform to speak about the injustices faced by many of our students and their families,” says Milwaukee teacher Marcelia Nicholson.

TAKE ACTION! Contact your lawmakers and tell them that you believe we as a society must positively address issues of racial injustice and institutional racism.