Reflecting on Anti-Black Violence, Justice, and Accountability

Posted by Kaitlin Smith on April 24, 2021

On Tuesday evening, it was announced that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty of all charges leveled against him in connection with the death of George Floyd in May 2020. The twelve-person jury reached the unanimous verdict that Chauvin committed second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter against Floyd nearly a year go. As we exhale in the wake of this decision, we must remain present to the unending stream of historical and contemporary violence that surrounds this guilty verdict.

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Topics: American History, Racism, black history

Combating the Erasure of API Experiences and Anti-API Violence

Posted by Facing History and Ourselves on April 2, 2021

On Monday, March 29th, a Filipino woman was brutally attacked in New York City while bystanders, including security guards, looked on without intervening. On Tuesday, March 16th, six Asian Pacific Islander (API) women lost their lives in three consecutive shootings in the Atlanta area. Weeks earlier around Lunar New Year, a wave of xenophobic violence swept the San Francisco Bay Area, metro New York and other US cities where numerous API people were attacked and some lost their life. 

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Topics: Racism, Asian American and Pacific Islander History

Pause

Posted by Karen Murphy on January 11, 2021

Pause. Take a breath.

In the past few years and, more urgently, in the past months and weeks, some Americans have used the language of division to describe the United Statesa "divided society." We are and have been. Using these kinds of labels helps, I think, because they allow us to begin giving language to our problems and then open up possible solutions. We have many fractures. There's not one thing that divides us. In other countries, people speak more freely of identity-based conflictssectarian, racial, and ethnic. We, too, have identity-based conflictsthis is one legacy of our unredressed history of racial injustice, violence, and oppression. We are also divided by additional vectors of inequality and we are divided by partisanship.

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Topics: Northern Ireland, South Africa, American History, Racism

Read Isabel Wilkerson's Caste With Us

Posted by Dr. Steven Becton on November 18, 2020

“We are responsible for our own ignorance or, with time and openhearted enlightenment, our own wisdom.” Isabel Wilkerson, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

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Topics: American History, Europe, Racism

Black Women Educators' Roundtable on Teaching and Current Events

Posted by Pamela Donaldson on November 6, 2020

This past September, I had the privilege to speak with Dr. Dena Simmons during a Facing History webinar about how social-emotional learning can help us realize an anti-racist future. It was on the day that the grand jury in Louisville, KY made the decision not to charge anyone for the murder of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old unarmed African-American woman fatally shot in her apartment. Both Dr. Simmons and I felt the heaviness of this verdict, and the need to have an honest conversation about the times we are living in as Black women educators. Dr. Simmons has since written an article for ASCD in which she notes that Black women educators always “show up...because we know our work is critical to Black youth in white-dominated school systems...even if it comes at a cost. But we are exhausted.”

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Topics: Schools, Teachers, Racism, current events

Racism is Not a Partisan Issue

Posted by Charles Thomas Lai FitzGibbon on October 30, 2020

During this election season, educators are navigating conversations with their students about politics, race, and racism in ways that seem without precedent, all while facing real pressures to remain nonpartisan. This tension notwithstanding, it’s necessary to understand race and racism as a political issue of membership and power, rather than a partisan one of liberal or conservative ideology. Doing so creates space to more truly confront injustice in policy and practice. As educators, this critical distinction can help us have the nuanced discussions we aim to have with our students around civic engagement, with a historical lens that contextualizes our moment.

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Topics: Reconstruction, Racism, race

Education Must Disrupt White Supremacy

Posted by Roger Brooks on October 2, 2020

At Facing History, we stand with educators who are working to disrupt rising white nationalism. 

Since the Unite the Right Rally of 2017 in Charlottesville, white nationalist groups have become increasingly visible on the national stage, deepening threats of racial and antisemitic violence across the country. Indeed, these threats are so severe that the Department of Homeland Security prepared draft reports (recently released to the press) indicating that “white supremacist extremists” currently pose the greatest terror threat to the nation.

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Topics: Antisemitism, Racism, white supremacy

History As Our Guide: Understanding What Divides, and What Connects

Posted by Charles Thomas Lai FitzGibbon on August 31, 2020

We ended last school year in a time of unraveling. On May 25th, 2020, George Floyd was murdered under the knee of Derek Chauvin while three other police officers stood by as accomplices. We as educators rose to support and hold space for our students to process and situate this moment in its larger movement, in defense of Black lives, and in the mourning of so many others. A reckoning took hold on the conscience of the nation, and James Baldwin’s words rang loud and clear: “History is literally present in all that we do.” We each were personally called to face our own positionality, our own biases, and our own complicity in sustaining systemic oppression—a call that is and will be ongoing. 

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Topics: Racism, black history, Asian American and Pacific Islander History

We, Too, are Tired

Posted by Dr. Steven Becton on August 28, 2020

“We are tired of the killings and injustice.” What can be clearer? What can be more reasonable? Those are the words of George Hill of the Milwaukee Bucks when asked why he and his teammates decided to boycott their scheduled NBA Playoff Game on Wednesday. These are young men deciding to walk away from not just the game they love but also from their livelihood. Many of these young men are fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing professional basketball. But they, like countless others, are tired of the killings and the injustice. It’s reasonable to expect that after all the media attention, protests, conversations, tears, sweat, and countless organizations claiming a renewed commitment to racial justice that one would give serious pause to shooting a Black man in the back. Yet here we are again. 29-year-old Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by police officers while entering the driver’s side of a vehicle with his children in the back seat. Thank you, Milwaukee Bucks, for not playing, for not defaulting to business as usual. There is a lot in our country to disagree about, but it’s hard to imagine how anyone cannot be tired of the killings and injustice. This has to be bipartisan, one cannot say that there are two sides to these senseless and too often lethal shootings.

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Topics: Racism, race

South Africans Respond to American Racism

Posted by Karen Murphy and Dylan Wray on July 17, 2020

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Topics: South Africa, Racism

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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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