6 New Books on Human Rights

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on December 14, 2021

Here at Facing History, we see awareness months as opportunities to deepen our knowledge of and attention to key histories and related areas of contemporary concern. However, the focus on these issues during one particular month can further marginalize the very concerns we aim to elevate. With this in mind, what follows is an invitation to engage with important themes raised by Global Human Rights Month this December and throughout all of the months of the year.

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Topics: Books, Human Rights, Reading List

African Americans and the History of "Human Rights"

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on December 10, 2021

While the concept of “human rights” figures prominently in the domestic policy and public life of many nations around the world, history reveals that the United States took a decidedly different path. As historian Carol Anderson details in her book Eyes Off the Prize (2003), the nation’s use of the concept reflects its history of racism—one in which narrower notions of “civil rights” gained currency in domestic affairs over and against the broader conceptions of “human rights” that remain central to the nation’s foreign policy. Having observed the inability of the U.S. government to uphold even the “civil rights” ostensibly guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution and legislation, a series of African American leaders have nevertheless invoked the language of “human rights” to underscore the urgency of their situation on the international stage. These figures⁠—including W.E.B. DuBois, William Patterson, Malcolm X, and Tommie Smith⁠—have played vital roles in an underacknowledged story of Black people leading global antiracist movements while also pushing their own country to be better. Moreover, this multigenerational story of vision, persistence, and recurring difficulty brings the historic significance of the recently announced United Nations investigation into human rights abuses against Black people around the world into sharper focus.

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Topics: Human Rights, Black History

13 Teaching Ideas on Human Rights

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on December 7, 2021

During Universal Human Rights Month this December, educators have an opportunity to engage their students in focused exploration of the assaults on human dignity that abound in our own national contexts and around the globe. Yet educators also have an opportunity to highlight some of the parallel efforts to protect human lives and dignity that arise in the face of violence and injustice.

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Topics: Human Rights

Teaching the History of Human Rights

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on December 2, 2021

"Where, after all, do human rights begin? In small places close to home-so close and
so small that they cannot be seen on any map of the world." Eleanor Roosevelt

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Topics: Human Rights, Universe of Obligation

More Than Monsters: The Deeper Significance of Wendigo Stories

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on November 30, 2021

One does not need to delve very deeply into the annals of American film, television, and literature to find an array of caricatured depictions of Native American peoples and a distortion of their knowledge. One recurring theme across these storytelling mediums is the use of the “wendigo”also spelled “wétiko”a monstrous figure from Algonquian mythology who exhibits an insatiable greed along with a desire for human flesh. From Stephen King’s Pet Sematary to the television series Hanibal, the flesh-eating image of the wendigo is often presented apart from its original cultural contexts where it carries deep moral significance. The latest addition to this lineup of wendigo tales is Scott Cooper and Guillermo del Toro’s horror film Antlers (2021) in which a Native American character provides some brief exposition before the story centered around a white community contending with the monster begins in earnest. Though these misrepresentations of the wendigo beg for critical interrogation, the wendigo stories of Algonquian peoples offer a window into the endurance of cultural resources used to transmit significant moral values, and underscore the power of Native people using these stories to engage in social critique.

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Topics: Film, Indigenous, Native Americans

20 Teacher Resources on Native American History and Culture

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on November 26, 2021

Here at Facing History, we see heritage and awareness months as opportunities to deepen our knowledge of and attention to the histories and contemporary experiences of historically marginalized communities. However, the focus on celebrating these communities over one particular month can further marginalize the very experiences we are hoping to elevate. With this in mind, what follows is an invitation to engage with important themes raised by Native American Heritage Month this November and throughout all of the months of the year.

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Topics: Indigenous, Native Americans

The Power of Native Language Revitalization

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on November 24, 2021

Since the announcement of the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland in June 2021, there has been increased public attention to the legacy of 18th and 19th-century government-run schools used to “kill the Indian to save the man” in the words of one school master. The use of these boarding schools was one significant component of an attempt at cultural genocide of Native peoplesone in which children were forcibly removed from their homes and deposited in schools where they were violently socialized into the norms of settler colonial culture and its official language: English. Despite the force of these authorities, Native American communities resisted attempts at cultural genocide and continue to resist into the present through a host of efforts. Alongside Secretary Haaland’s federal initiative, there are a number of grassroots efforts dedicated to healing the lasting wounds inflicted by these policies. Among them are a group of educational initiatives being led by Native people that engage in language revitalization as a form of decolonial education and healing. 

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Topics: Indigenous, Native Americans

7 Must-See Films on Native American History and Life

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on November 22, 2021

Here at Facing History, we see heritage and awareness months as opportunities to deepen our knowledge of and attention to the histories and contemporary experiences of historically marginalized communities. However, the focus on celebrating these communities over one particular month can further marginalize the very experiences we are hoping to elevate. With this in mind, what follows is an invitation to engage with important themes raised by Native American Heritage Month
this November and throughout all of the months of the year.

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Topics: Indigenous, Native Americans

4 Virtual Events to Learn + Celebrate Native American Heritage

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on November 18, 2021

Here at Facing History, we see heritage and awareness months as opportunities to deepen our knowledge of and attention to the histories and contemporary experiences of historically marginalized communities. However, the focus on celebrating these communities over one particular month can further marginalize the very experiences we are hoping to elevate. With this in mind, what follows is an invitation to engage with important themes raised by Native American Heritage Month this November and throughout all of the months of the year.

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Topics: Indigenous, Native Americans

5 Native-Led Podcasts for Media Literacy

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on November 15, 2021

Here at Facing History, we see heritage and awareness months as opportunities to deepen our attention to the histories and contemporary experiences of particular communities. However, we are cognizant of the significant limitations of educational approaches that limit engagement with these themes only to those times of the year. What follows is an invitation to engage with important themes raised by Native American Heritage Month this November and beyond.

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Topics: Indigenous, Native Americans

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Welcome to Facing Today, a Facing History blog. Facing History and Ourselves combats racism and antisemitism by using history to teach tolerance in classrooms around the globe.

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