Warm up/ Do Now: What is a community? Students will journal on this topic for 10 minutes. Following the journaling, students will turn to a partner and share. Teacher will then call the class together in a whole group and select pairs of students to share what similarities and differences they found between their understandings of community. Students will take notes on the conversation as it develops.
Say: Now that we have heard some ideas about community let's see if we can arrive at a definition. With student input teacher will write a definition of community. This may include characteristics such as shared identity, common history, common environment, shared social circumstances, cooperation, cultural markers (ie. food or music) shared belief systems, etc. Post this definition in the classroom on a piece of chart paper. Student will also have written the definition in their notes. Emphasize that this is the class definition of community for now and that likely it will change throughout the unit. Also emphasize that students may create their own definitions as the unit progresses and that individuals may come away with different understandings of what community is.
Explain: We will be looking at a series of TV clips to investigate and complicate our understanding of community. As we watch the clips I would like you to think about what kinds of communities you see and what characteristics those communities share. Using an LCD projector, play Episode 6, season one of Orange is the New Black
. Begin episode at 14:50 and let is run until 21:37. After the clip has played, ask students what communities were depicted and what characteristics defined those communities. Because students are likely unfamiliar with the kinds of observations an ethnographer might make, it is important to model a thinking aloud. Teacher should highlight that although there is some disagreement within the white community regarding the racist ideology Lorna (Yael Stone's character) presents, the community is accepting of these beliefs. The white community is the only one to articulate the absurdity of the racial and age divisions in the Women's Advisory Council election process, but they are also complicit in its existence. Nicky (Natasha Lyonne's character) says "pretend it's the 1950's. That will make it easier to understand," and Alex (played by Laura Pepron) seems to encourage Lorna's racisim, "Let's hear more about Lorna's racism." Although Alex, Nicky and Pepper are not overtly racist, their silence or tacit encouragement suggests a shared belief system.
The black community defines itself largely in opposition to the white community. This is seen when Tastee (Danielle Brook's character) and Poussey (played by Samira Wiley) imitate "white speech" when degrading Sofia (Laverne Cox's character). Interestingly although Tastee and Poussey do comment on Sofia's status as a transwoman, her outsider status seems to come more from her "white politics" than her nonconforming gender identity. Tastee and Poussey go on at length mocking Sofia's "white politics" through their imitation of "white talk" while only passing derogatory remarks regarding her transgender identity are present.
Following this discussion play Episode 6, season 1 from 29:28 until 31:20 and 37:30 until 42:00. As the clips play students should continue to think about the communities that are present in the text and what characteristics define the communities. In discussion, students may again discuss racism, shared belief systems, religion, food, and culture (including hair care).
Following the second discussion Say: Now that we have made some observations about communities and characteristics of communities, I want you to think about how the communities interact. Is there any overlap in the communities? Are there any rules that govern behavior in the different communities? Do any communities have power over others? Play final clip from 51:04 to 55:05 and then play episode 7, season 1 from 5:16 to 8:53. These clips dramatize the results of the election and each community's reaction to the results. Episode 7 opens with the representatives meeting with prison counselor Healy and advocating for the needs of their group. Students will journal on the questions listed above. As students journal, monitor the room and select several students to share out their ideas in a whole class setting as closure to the lesson. For homework assign students to read a critical review of the show such as Slate's "What's a Nice Blonde Like Me Doing in Prison?"
Warm up: Students will read Indiewire article, "August Wilson Gets His Wish - Denzel Washington Is Ready To Direct 'Fences' For The Screen."
After reading ask students to journal in response to the essential questions (1) What is representation?(2) Who has the authority to represent and who decides? Following the journaling, students will turn to a partner and share. Teacher will then call the class together in a whole group and select pairs of students to discuss their ideas of representation.
Instruct students to take out their reading from the previous class with their notes on it: Slate's "What's a Nice Blonde Like Me Doing in Prison." Say: thinking about the August Wilson article and the Piper Kerman article, do you think Kerman has the authority to represent the prison community? (Depending in on the skills focus, this exploration could be set up as a forced debate or a seminar style discussion).
Following the discussion, distribute: "A Former prisoner's Prisoner's Review of 'Orange is the New Black.'
Students will read text independently marking claims of support for Kerman's authority to write the text, which they agree with. Ask Students: In what ways does the second review change or complicate your understanding of Kerman's authority to write Orange is the New Black? What are some issues an artist or ethnographer might have to consider when representing a community he/she is not part of? What are some issues an artist or ethnographer might have to consider when representing a community he/she is somewhat part of? What are some issues an artist or ethnographer might have to consider when representing a community he/she is part of? How does one know he/she is part of a community?
Closure: Brainstorm a list of communities you believe you are part of? Brainstorm a list of communities that you come in contact which you might not be part of (ex. the teachers).
Warm up: Display images of the 1991 Crown Heights Riot
(which might more accurately be conceived of as an urban rebellion). Ask students to share their inferences and reflections with a small group. Say: What do you notice? What conclusions can be drawn from the images? What communities are present? What characteristics define the communities? Allow five minutes for the small group discussion then play a video clip to provide background information regarding the Crown Heights Riots.
Ask students to engage in a quick write to activate their initial thinking. Following the small group discussion and the quick write activity, call class together to generalize discussion. Prompt students to share their initial reactions to the film clip or share out key ideas from the group discussion.
Distribute copies of Fires in the Mirrors and explain to students that this is a series of monologues based on interviews of Black and Jewish individuals following the Crown Heights Riots. Direct students to "Near Enough to Reach," and read aloud. Model reader response using dialectical note taking
to record responses during reading. Make note that the speaker in this monologue seems to understand the false dichotomy between the Hasidic and Black communities. The speaker, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, who represents the Black community, says "Only Jews listen/ only Jews take Blacks seriously/ only Jews see blacks as full human beings." Teacher will model making inferences, connections, and asking questions using dialectical notes. Say: I notice the speaker uses a lot of repetition in these three lines. I also notice the parallelism of the line structure. It seems the writer is trying to emphasize the speakers understanding that there is not such a large difference between the Black community and the Jewish community. In line 26 the speaker contrasts the Black community with the Jewish community stating "but Blacks is like a little child kicking up against Arnold Schwarzenegger/ when they/ when they have anything to say about the dominant culture." Say: Here I notice the speaker does not use standard English but African American Vernacular English, "But Blacks is." I wonder why the author chose to do this? Maybe she was trying to preserve the authenticity of her interview with Letty Cottin Pogrebin. I wonder if readers trust the argument put forward by this speaker less because of the authors choice of diction.
Students will work independently to read and record thoughts on "Seven Verses," "Issac," and "Lousy Language," using dialectical notes. When students have finished ask them to describe the ways the speakers define community. Students may focus on word choice, tone, or selection of detail. In order to prompt students think the teacher may need to make use of probing questions: How do the speakers define their communities in the text? How has Smith represented the Black community? How has Smith represented the Jewish community? How do these speakers understand the cause of the riots? Why do the speakers contrast slavery and the Holocaust? Teacher may need to highlight that the idea of community tends seems to crystallize around the idea of degrees of injustice.
Assign students to read several of the monologues from the Hasidic community. This may be done in class or for homework. Students should write a brief informal reader response (1-2 pages) comparing and contrasting the way the two communities perceive the riots. Some guiding questions for the written comparison are: How do the speakers define their communities in the text? How has Smith represented the Hasidic community? How do these speakers understand the cause of the riots? How does this alter our ideas about community?