The power of a picture to show us how we’ve failed

January 23, 2014 — 1 Comment

If you have a young child in your life you may have experienced frustration, shock, confusion or a variety of other feelings, when the child just doesn’t “get” the civil rights movement, or the power of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy. Or he/she thinks this chapter happened centuries ago even though it might have even happened in your life time.

Who can blame them?! We all would like to think that it was so far back in unimaginable history when we didn’t treat each other fairly. However, if children don’t have a visceral understanding of the horrors of “history” or if they are not informed that even though great strides have been made, this fight isn’t over, we only have adults to blame.

One way that I have found to help children understand the  flaws of the abstract concept of “separate  but equal” is to use This is the Dream by Diane ZuHone Shore & Jessica Alexander, illustrated by James Ransome.

Some people may question what is wrong with “separate but equal?” But if one uses visual literacy and critical thinking skills while examining this books, it is hard do draw any conclusion but “separate is NOT equal.” Take a look at the picture below and see if you can list all the reasons that a second grader can list when they think about the rightness of “separate but equal.”

What do you notice?

 seperate but equal

One response to The power of a picture to show us how we’ve failed


    So powerful…of course, we find that even middle school kids today–particularly in schools where there is not as much diversity as in others–do not “get” a great deal about issues regarding race. They’ve been raised, to a great extent, with the idea that we should all be “color blind” and that “it doesn’t matter what color you are–we are all the same under the skin.” They parrot that well–and, for the most part, they actually live it (but, again, many are living in places which are not terribly diverse). I have found that, with this age group, my best way “in,” as a result, has been through Jim Loewen’s work on Sundown Towns which helps the kids to think about why the places they are living in are not terribly diverse. And that has led to some very good conversation.

    Thanks, Sam, for doing this important work!

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