Why Does Talking About Race Suck So Much? Getting Students to Discuss Systemic Racism and White Privilege

  • Brianna Burke (Iowa State University)


In this lesson plan, which opens any of my courses focused on race, I begin with a critical discussion of systemic racism. It is important for students to understand that they live within—and some benefit from—a system they did not create, but nevertheless exists. They can choose to live within this system by doing nothing about it, or they can decide it is wrong, and they will not partake in it. I begin with world colonialism, postcolonialism, neocolonialism, and our shameful legacy of global systemic racism. Briefly outlining our global history for students, I move our discussion to the United States, illuminating our problems with race and inequality in our country and how they were created, then how they have been perpetuated and persist today. My lesson plan ends with a conversation about why learning about race is qimportant, a deep exploration of white privilege, and then what students can do to become anti-racist allies.



Published on
04 Mar 2016
Peer Reviewed