We selected ERASE Racism's documentary, "A tale of two schools: race and education in Long Island, NY," because it follows the daily lives of Dave and Owen, two African American male teenagers during their senior year of high school.


Source: ERASE Racism

Even though these two young men come from very similar backgrounds and share similar experiences their ability to access high quality education can be attributed to the resources available in these two different public high schools. This film does an excellent job at spotlighting these differences and the results of educational disparities for individuals and for particular racial/ethnic and socio-economic groups.

  1. Advance preparation
    1. Instructor gives a short lecturette on "Why race and socio economic class segregation matters for quality public education" using Gary Orfield et al reports and/or use information from the PowerPoint presentation that accompanies A Tale of two schools: Race and education on Long Island as found on http://eraseracismny.org/our-work/education/a-tale-of-two-schools-race-and-education-on-long-island.
    2. Ask students to read 2 chapters from one of Kozol's books
      1. Savage inequalities
      2. Shame of the nation
      3. Fire in the Ashes
    3. Questions to ponder before class
      1. What is racial and socio-economic class segregation?
      2. What are some similarities and differences to your personal education experience?
      3. Debriefing questions
        1. What struck you about these two young men's stories and why?
        2. In what ways do you relate to their stories and why? In what ways do you not relate to their stories and why?
        3. What questions do you have after watching the video?
      4. Discussion questions
        1. What is racial and socio-economic class segregation?
        2. In what ways does racial and socio-economic class segregation impact a quality education?
        3. What are some examples of things that are taken for granted in better resourced schools by students, teachers and parents?
        4. What are some examples of the things that are not taken for granted in under-resourced schools by students, teachers and parents?
        5. What are some of the benefits and the consequences for individual students who are in under-resourced schools? Better resourced schools? For the surrounding community?
  2. View video:

    A Tale of two schools: Race and education on Long Island

  1. Debriefing and discussion questions
  2. Application:

Have students investigate the racial demographics and school budget of own school district and of neighboring counties/communities to begin to assess if there are plausible disparities.


#RaceAnd. (2016). [Video, about 3 min. each]: Race Forward. https://www.raceforward.org/videos/RaceAnd

Ask students to select 2 or 3 videos of the 8 videos and answer the following questions.

  • What were the themes presented in the video clips you watched? How did the individual make sense of their own racial identity in relation to their other identities?
  • How is an intersectional framework useful to understanding and responding to race and racism?

Personal reflection:

  • What or how have you felt growing up or living in the United States as a _______ (think of your own racial group)?
  • What have you experienced or felt about race and racism in the U.S.?
  • What messages did you get about your racial group?  What messages did you get about other groups?
  • What other social identity groups do you belong to? (i.e. gender, class, ethnoreligious identity)?

How has your racial identity intersected with your other identities? How have you made sense of your race in relation to class or gender or sexuality?

Discussion Questions

2A: Context

  1. Read the Introduction to Racism chapter and Beverly Tatum's, Defining Racism: Can We Talk. Define each concept listed below and give one example of each based on the readings, or classroom discussion, and/or your own experience:
    • Race
    • Racial stereotype
    • Racial prejudice
    • Racism
    • Active racist behavior
  2. In A Different Mirror, Ronald Takaki provides a brief overview of the history of multicultural U.S.A. by highlighting the experiences of 6 racial/ethnic groups; Native Americans, African Americans, Chicanos, Asian Americans, Irish Americans, and Jewish Americans. In what ways are the historical experiences of these groups similar and/or different? How are these historical patterns different/similar for new immigrants today?
  3. How does Lipsitz explain the concepts of whiteness, white power, and white hegemony in The Possessive Investment in Whiteness? What examples of the possessive investment in whiteness do you see operating in your college, community, and your workplace?
  4. Read the Introduction to the Racism Chapter and Andrea Smith's Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy; Rethinking Women of Color Organizing. How does Smith define white supremacy? Describe the three pillars of white supremacy. How do these three “logics’ help explain the divergent experiences of African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latina/o Americans and Arab Americans in the U.S.A.?
  5. In the introduction to An Indigenous People’s History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz provides a brief overview of the history of settler colonialism in the United States by describing how colonizers replaced the Indigenous population of a territory through extermination, removal and land theft. How does Dunbar-Ortiz describe settler colonialism? What mechanisms (e.g. legal, economic, military) were used to reinforce white supremacy throughout the U.S territory? 
  6. Dunbar-Ortiz claims that “settler colonialism, as a system of as an institution, requires violence or threat of violence to achieve its goals”; what analytical connections can you make between her claim and either Iris M. Young’s Five Faces of Oppression or Andrea Smith’s Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy?
  7. How does Gloria Anzaldúa's, La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness, help you think about the intersections of race, gender, nation, and language when considering the impact of race and racism on your own sociocultural identity?
  8. Maria Root, in her article, 50 Experiences of Racially Mixed People, reminds us of some of the ways that multiracial people are treated in our society. From the list, chose 5 statements that captured your attention. How do these statements help you think about race, racial identity, racial prejudice, and racism? What new questions have been raised for you regarding multiracial identity (ies)?
  9. Read the following texts: The National Network on Immigrant Rights Report, Over-Raided, Under Siege, Human Rights Immigrant Community Action Network and two reports focusing on a.) workplace immigration raids, and b.) the struggle to reauthorize Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian refugees. Identify and describe three ways that immigrant rights are violated by the legal system in the U.S.A. In your own words, explain how the source of mistreatment can be tied to Beverly Tatum's definition of racism and the discussion of contemporary and intersecting manifestations of racism and white supremacy presented in Introduction to Racism chapter.

2B: Voices

  1. What personal narratives or voices included in the racism chapter spoke to you in how you identify yourself? Explain. What narratives or voices did not speak to you or did you find hardest to understand? Explain.
  2. As you read some of the personal voices included in the racism chapter, what impacted you the most? What perspectives or experiences were different/similar from your own and why? How do you think your racial/ethnic group membership may influence how you see yourself?
  3. Whose voices or personal narratives are included in this chapter? Whose are missing?
  4. What would you want to express about your own experience as a raced (e.g., African American or Black descent, Asian Pacific American, Native American, Latino/a, Arab, White European heritage and/or Biracial and/or Multiracial, recent immigrant) person?
  5. Gormaa, in American Hijab, examines the meanings attached to the hijab among “the West” in contrast to the Muslims across the world. She argues that donning the hijab is a sociopolitical statement, representing a particular solidarity with other people of color. What messages have you received about the hijab and what it represents? How does Gormaa’s narrative affirm or challenge your thinking about the relationship between a Muslim identity and a racial identity?
  6. Coates, in Letter to My Son chronicles his experience growing up in America. What struck you about his narrative? What were key moments that shaped his consciousness about race and racism in America? Inter-generationally, how does Coates and his son share a similar and different experience navigating racism in the U.S.? How does Coates’s personal narrative reinforce the historical experiences of minoritized racial/ethnic groups that you learned in the Introduction to Racism chapter?

2C:  Next Steps

  1. In My Class Didn’t Trump My Race, Robin DiAngelo discusses the intersections between class and race, focusing on how she learned racism through her experience with classism.  What other identities (class, gender, etc) intersect with your racial identity? What ways have you learned about racism through your experiences with other forms of oppression? What are some of the examples of racial internalized dominance DiAngelo identifies? What strategies does she outline for interrupting racial internalized dominance?
  2. Developing and sustaining relationships across differences can be rewarding and challenging for everyone. Have you ever tried to be friends or team up with people from a racial/ethnic, class, religious, etc. background very different from your own? What happened? If you have not had such an experience, why do you think that is? How can the readings in this chapter help you reflect further on your experience?
  3. Read Tatum and Ayvazian's Women, Race and Racism: A Dialogue in Black and White, then respond to the following questions: What about their conversation did you find interesting and pertinent to your own life? What made that so? Why? What questions would you like to ask each of them and why? What are your personal hopes for building authentic relationships across differences and interracial dialogue?
  4. Ann Keating describes several strategies to create change in Forging el Mundo Zurdo: Changing Ourselves, Changing the World. What strategies does she outline to support the quest for a common vision in the struggle against racism and white supremacy? Pick 1-2 of these strategies, free write, and identify a classmate or a friend to talk about your perspective.
  5. After reading Chip Smith's, The Personal is Political, list 3–5 ways you could see yourself becoming an activist.

Further Resources

4A: Context

#ResistanceMaricopa (2017). [Online videos, 2-5 min.]: Race forward.


#Resistance Maricopa is a five-part video series produced by Tiye Rose for Colorlines. The videos show people who are working in Arizona to protect community members from the growing hostility immigrants face as well as detention and deportation.

13th. [Streaming Video, 1 hour, 40 min.]: DuVernay, A. (2016). Netflix.


In this video, Director Ava DuVernay, while focusing the experiences of African Americans, examines the prison industrial complex in the United States and illustrates the ways in which race and mass incarceration are linked. DuVernay also explores the increase/expansion of the prison industrial complex in the U.S.

A conversation on race. (2016).[Video clip, 5 - 7 min.]: New York Times.


This series of short films on race largely introduces the viewer to individuals of different racial identities discussing the impact of race and racism in their lives within the United States context. The authors explain that the main focus is to explore the nuances of the systemic racism while originally only looking at the black and white binary, has continued to expand.

How racism makes us sick (2016). [Ted Talk, 17:28 min.]: TedMed. Ted Talk by David R. Williams. https://www.ted.com/talks/david_r_williams_how_racism_makes_us_sick

Williams discusses how systemic racism impacts physical and emotional health of people of color. In particular, Williams also gives examples of programs within the U.S. that are doing work to dismantle discrimination.

The urgency of intersectionality. (2016). [Video clip, 16.31]: TED Talk by Kimberlé Crenshaw. https://www.ted.com/talks/kimberle_crenshaw_the_urgency_of_intersectionality

Crenshaw shares how she coined term intersectionality to frame the racialized and gendered experiences of Black women in the United States. She discusses the need to have an intersectional analysis of police violence.

Race: the power of an illusion. (3 part series). (2003). [VHS & DVD, 2 hr. 48 min.]: California Newsreel.  http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm

Challenges the belief that race is biological by showing how race has been socially constructed throughout U.S. history. Part one examines the contemporary science, including genetics, and physical traits of race. Part two shows how race has been used to rationalize social inequalities. Part three looks at race as political and how it has been used to implement institutional racist practices.

Unnatural causes: is inequality making us sick? (2008). [DVD, 3 hrs. 56 min.]: California Newsreel. http://www.unnaturalcauses.org/

A seven-part series exploring racial and socioeconomic inequalities in health. Some topics discussed are: connection between diabetes and Native American communities, the physiological consequences of racism, residential links to health inequalities, and the reason why Latino immigrants get sicker once they live in the U.S.

4B: Voices

Mirrors of privilege: making whiteness visible. (2006). [DVD, 50 min.]: World Trust Services. https://world-trust.org/product/mirrors-privilege-making-whiteness-visible/

Features the experiences of white women and men who have worked to gain insight into what it means to challenge notions of racism and white supremacy in the United States.

Facing race: stories & voices. (2016). [Video/Podcasts, 5-10 min]: Race Forward.org at https://www.raceforward.org/media/facing-race-stories-voices

This video/podcast shares conversations with people who talk about the many ways to engage and experiences people have in racial justice work. The variety of videos include conversations around Multiracial movement building, critical self-reflection, formative memories growing up, and more.

Systemic racism. (2015). [Videos, each video approximately 1 min]: Race Forward.org at https://www.raceforward.org/videos/systemic-racism

In this 8 part video series, Race Forward addresses ways in which systemic racism exists in the U.S. in particular, looking at employment, incarceration, and housing among other aspects of systemic racism.

4C: Next Steps

An interview with the founders of Black Lives Matter. (2016). [Video, 13:18 min.]: TedWomen, Mia Birdson with Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. https://www.ted.com/talks/alicia_garza_patrisse_cullors_and_opal_tometi_an_interview_with_the_founders_of_black_lives_matter/up-next

Born out of a social media post, the Black Lives Matter movement has sparked discussion about race and inequality across the world. In this spirited conversation with Mia Birdsong, the movement’s three founders share what they have learned about leadership and what sustains them.

Check out our bias to wreck our bias. (2016). [Video clip, 3 min.]: New York Times.


This short video, in a series of videos, introduces the viewer to implicit bias, in the context of race and racism and discusses one or two ways of examining and addressing one’s own implicit biases.

Confronting racist objects. (2016). [Videos, 2:17 min., 2:31 min., 2:13 min.]: New York TimeLogan Jaffe. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/09/us/confronting-racist-objects.html

This article and video explores the narratives from various perspectives of racist objects that are still found, collected, and sold in the U.S.. Jaffe incorporates the story-telling with exploration of the history and racism of various objects like figurines, statues, logos, and other media paraphernalia like posters.

Dolores. (2017). [Movie, 1 hour 35 min]: PBS Distribution Presents a Carlos Santana Production in association with 5 Stick Films. www.doloresthemovie.com; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unzr9kiFScQ

This film documents the life of activist, feminist, and co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association, Dolores Huerta. The film interviews Dolores Huerta, family members, and people who have worked with her. Her lifelong career continues today at 87 years old, Dolores Huerta still is active in fighting for others. The themes explore not only the plight of those with whom she worked in solidarity but also struggles she faced against systemic oppression of women.

Islamophobia killed my brother. Let’s end the hate. (2016) [Video, 14:49 min.]: TedWomen Talk by Suzanne Barakat. https://www.ted.com/talks/suzanne_barakat_islamophobia_killed_my_brother_let_s_end_the_hate/up-next

When her brother, his wife Yusor, and Yusor’s sister, Razan were killed in 2015 by a neighbor in North Carolina, the media did not follow up closely with the alleged dispute until Suzanne Barakat spoke up about the hate crimes that were their murders. Her narrative expresses how she and her family reclaimed the narrative and encourages us to not just bear witness to hate but also speak up and be allies instead of silent bystanders.

Hijabi. (2017). [Video clip, 3:19 min.]. Mona Haydar. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOX9O_kVPeo

Mona Haydar, a Syrian American artist debuted this song and music video, featuring a multiracial group of women singing, dancing and rapping about common conceptions and misconceptions about the hijab.

Precious knowledge. (2011). [DVD, 70 min]: Dos Vatos Productions, Inc.. http://www.preciousknowledgefilm.com/

The movie Precious Knowledge illustrates what motivates Tucson High School students and teachers to form the front line of an epic civil rights battle. While 48 percent of Mexican-American students currently drop out of high school, Tucson High’s Mexican American Studies Program has become a national model of educational success, with 93 percent of enrollment students graduating from high school. However, Arizona lawmakers are trying to shut the program down because they believe the students are being indoctrinated with dangerous ideology and embracing destructive ethnic chauvinism.

We need to talk about injustices. (2012). [Video, 23:34 min.]: Ted Talk by Bryan Stevenson. https://www.ted.com/talks/bryan_stevenson_we_need_to_talk_about_an_injustice

In his Ted Talk, Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights lawyer discusses the need to talk about injustices as well as reflect and take action. He notes how the in the U.S. many of the injustices have been disconnected from the problems that people identify with, instead acting like the problem of the mass incarceration of young black men is not a problem that belongs to us all. Mr. Stevenson weaves his narrative as a civil rights lawyer with the history of the work done by during the civil rights movement and the history of the U.S.

Whose streets?. (2017). [Streaming Video, Movie 1:41:31]. Magnolia Pictures. http://www.whosestreetsfilm.com/; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upiJnjJSerw

This film documents activists and leaders’ perspectives during the Ferguson, Missouri uprising in response to when unarmed teenager Michael Brown was killed in 2014 by police and left in the street for hours.