Black Lives Matter in Our Schools: Developing an Anti-Racist Pedagogy

Empowering Black students to become change makers is a key goal of the book, Teaching for Black Lives. Editors Dyan Watson, Jesse Hagopian and Wayne Au have assembled a cogent group of essays that offer the opportunity for developing an anti-racist pedagogy.

Truthout interviewed one of the editors, Jesse Hagopian, who is also a Truthout contributing writer.

Mark Karlin: You note in your introduction that “We must teach for black lives in our classrooms.” How did you and your fellow editors come up with the idea for a textbook that can also be used as a reader by adults?

Co-editor Jesse Hagopian.
Co-editor Jesse Hagopian.
Rethinking Schools

Jesse Hagopian: As I answer these questions, white supremacists and neo-Nazis are readying plans to march on Washington, DC. Hate crimes are on the rise around the country. Police violence against Black people continues unabated and the school-to-prison pipeline is helping to fuel the nation’s system of mass incarceration. And yet, there are also a growing number of educators who are organizing and fighting back against anti-Black racism.

In this way, I think the Black Lives Matter (BLM) at School movement and the broader movement for Black lives inspired the idea for Teaching for Black Lives as a book that could be used by educators, students, activists and community organizers. The BLM at School movement went national during the 2017-2018 school year and educators in over 20 cities participated in a week of action from February 5 to 9, to affirm the lives of Black students and challenge institutional racism. The BLM at School movement developed three demands: (1) End “zero tolerance” discipline and implement restorative justice; (2) Hire more Black teachers; (3) Mandate Black history and ethnic studies in K-12 curriculum. In addition, educators taught lessons throughout the week that corresponded to the 13 guiding principles of #BlackLivesMatter Global Network including restorative justice, empathy and loving engagement, diversity and globalism,…

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