In my classroom, as far as cultural identity is concerned, questions have been asked, concerns have been raised, and conversations have been started with begging eyes for answers. Especially after the events in Ferguson, MO, not to name the only, the over 75% African American student body wants to talk about this.
“What is wrong with the world that people treat people so badly?” “It’s not fair.” “Do you believe in us?”
It is apparent that there is doubt, confusion and fear relating to individual identity and specifically, racially. Speaking up is a powerful antidote for this. Art is an undeniable voice, a visible word, and a multilayered medium by which the kids can explore and voice their cultural identity and subsequently bring change to the social environment they inhabit.
By studying American Indian history including the ways the US government has mistreated them, students will find historical issues that are not far removed from our modern political climate in America. Although our modern issues materialize differently, the students will be able to make connections and be equipped to bring their voice to injustices on humanity as a whole. The students will not only learn history, but empathy for people groups who have been mistreated and misrepresented.
In addition to this, the main purpose of the assignment is expression of cultural identity of both American Indians and the culture of each student. They will learn observation skills, looking to the common spaces and daily cues to piece together the narratives of another culture, and that of their own. Students will be able to find meaning in speaking out, and self-expression.