How do social constructs such as race shape literature? Can middle and high school students use a Critical Race Theory lens to discover marginalized or misrepresented voices in literature and then create counternarratives for the silent or misrepresented voices? Having developed an awareness of the inequity bestowed upon the “African Other” can they then look back into history and in the tradition of Sankofa and the spirit of social justice create a world of utopia?
This unit seeks to develop an awareness of and the application of a Critical Race Theory lens to the reading and analysis of literature and films. Using an Inquiry based learning approach, it asks students to notice and wonder about the visual images that barrage their daily lives and the coded language they are complicit in use or acquiescence. The unit requires that students guide the inquiry by generating questions about the world as depicted in literature, seek voices not heard or ways that interests may converge. It asks students to try to make sense of their discoveries by explaining and debating positions on issues or concepts based on reflection, research and analysis. This unit seeks to empower middle and high school students to not only question the status quo but challenges them to create/recreate counternarratives reflective of utopians for the world they failed to discover in literature.
This unit will examine the genre of science fiction—specifically Afrofuturism. The genre of Afrofuturism will allow students freedom to creatively write about worlds of utopia not limited by one’s current reality and seek to modify the future by going back to alter one’s future using tools of science, mysticism, and social justice.
Keywords: Afrofuturism, Critical Race Theory, Creative Writing, Literature Analysis, Race, Sankofa, Science, Science Fiction
(Developed for English Language Arts, grades 7-8; recommended for English, grades 9-10)