Race, Ethnicity, Prejudice, and Stereotypes (REPS) Unit

Race, Ethnicity, Prejudice, and Stereotypes (REPS) Unit

Introduction: We just looked at bullying – what it is, what forms it takes, and what we can do about it. Before that we analyzed gender and the role it plays in our society. Now we are going to peel back more layers to try to understand the role that race and ethnicity play in who we are and how we treat each other.


Lesson 1: Bear Like Me (Children’s Story)… Society sometimes tries to tell us who we are…

Lesson 2: What Is Race (Definitions) + Race: The Power of the Illusion (Documentary Film Episode 1 – Trust has 2 copies)… based on false labels.

Lesson 3: Susie Phipps (Short Reading)… Race gets into people’s psyche

Lesson 4: Eye of the Storm (Documentary Film – Trust has 2 copies)… even at an early age

Lesson 5: Little Things Are Big (Short Narrative)… and we start to act and think differently.

Lesson 6: The Lunch Date (Short Film – Trust has 2 copies)… We make irrational decisions

Lesson 7: Street Calculus (Cartoon – separate file)… based on stereotypes (reading – separate file)

Lesson 8: Being Black (Short Radio Episode… online)… and we start to get boxed in

Lesson 9: Princess Oreo (Teen Article – separate file)… and forced to act differently than who we are.

Lesson 10: A Girl Like Me (Short Teen Documentary… Trust has 1 copy? and online)… It changes us in ways we don’t even realize

Lesson 11: Eye of the Beholder (Twilight Zone Episode - Netflix)… and then society institutionalizes these dynamics.

Lesson 12: What You Lookin’ At (Teen Article – separate file)… Society treats us differently

Lesson 13: Walking While Arab (Teen Article – separate file)… based on our race and ethnicity.

Lesson 14-16: PSA Project… What are you going to do about it?

Instructions: All of the lessons and activities for each of these resources are included in this packet. Some of the readings are included as well.

Advisory Lesson 1: The Bear that Wasn’t

(Note: The attached plan can be adapted as a full 50 minute period, or the story and any parts of this plan can be inserted to other lessons on identity such as the Identity Map lesson)

Objective: What outside factors influence our identity? Who gets to decide what our identity really is?


Option 1: Make a list of all the different names, words, and ideas that other people use to identify you. Then go down the list and mark off which ones you believe and which ones you disagree with

Option 2: Make a list of groups that you have belonged to in your lifetime. Pick one or two of the groups and list the specific behaviors or expectations that group had for you (Teacher can model an example- e.g. I was part of a sports team in high school- they expected me to work out, act tough, and go to parties on the weekend)

Read the abridged version of the short story “The Bear that Wasn’t” (Handout attached) or listen to the full version read aloud on NPR ()

Possible Post-Reading Activities:

1) Create an identity map for the bear. Inside of a circle or bear paw students should list all of the words the bear uses to describe himself in the story. Outside of the circle/paw they should list the words used by others to describe the bear.

2) Class discussion: Possible guiding questions include: How does the identity of the bear shift over time? Who decides the bear’s identity? What is the point the author is trying to make in this story? What is more important to you- the labels we give ourselves or the labels we give others?

3) Journaling: Think of a time when someone identified you in a way that you did not choose to identify yourself. How did you respond?

4) As an advisory, develop a set of norms or standards to avoid putting unfair expectations on each other. Focus the brainstorm around the question of “How can we be sure that we are not treating each other like the bear was treated?” Answers can be put on chart paper and left up in the classroom as a guide

The Bear That Wasn't

No two people are exactly alike. Each is an individual with unique talents, interests, and values. At the same time, each also belongs to many different groups. Everywhere, to be human means to live with others. In groups, we meet our most basic needs. In groups, we learn a language, customs, and values. We also satisfy our yearning to belong, receive comfort in times of trouble, and find companions who share our dreams and beliefs. Even as we struggle to define our unique identity, those groups attach labels to us that may differ from those we would choose for ourselves. In the book, the bear that wasn’t, Frank Tashlin uses words and pictures to describe that process. _______________________________________________________________________

Once upon a time, in fact it was on a Tuesday, the Bear saw that it was time to go into a cave and hibernate. And that was just what he did. Not long afterward, in fact it was on a Wednesday, lots of workers arrived near that cave. While the Bear slept, they built a great, huge factory.

As winter turned to spring, the Bear awoke and stepped out of his cave. His eyes popped. Where was the forest?

Where was the grass?

Where were the trees?

Where were the flowers?


“I must be dreaming,” he said. “Of course, I’m dreaming.” But it wasn’t a dream. It was real. Just then the Foreman came out of the factory. “Hey, you get back to work,” he said.

The Bear replied, “I don’t work here. I’m a Bear.”

The Foreman laughed, “That’s a fine excuse for a man to keep from doing any work. Saying he’s a Bear.”

The Bear said, “But, I am a Bear.”

The Foreman stopped laughing. He was very mad.

“Don’t try to fool me,” he said. “You’re not a Bear. You’re a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat. I’m going to take you to the General Manager.”



The General Manager also insisted the Bear was a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat

The Bear said, “No, you’re mistaken. I am a Bear.”

The General Manager was very mad, too.

The Bear said, “I’m sorry to hear you say that. You see, I am a Bear.”



The Third Vice President was even madder.





The Second Vice President was more than mad or madder. He was furious.



The First Vice President yelled in rage.

He said, “You’re not a Bear. You’re a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat. I’m going to take you to the President.”

The Bear pleaded, “This is a dreadful error, you know, because ever since I can remember, I’ve always been a Bear.”

And that is exactly what the Bear told the President.

“Thank you for telling me,” the President said. “You can‘t be a Bear. Bears are only in a zoo or a circus. They’re never inside a factory and that’s where you are; inside a factory. So how can you be a Bear?”

The Bear said, “But I am a Bear.”

The President said, “Not only are you a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat, but you are also very stubborn. So I’m going to prove it to you, once and for all, that you are not a Bear.”

The Bear said, “But I am a Bear.”

The President packed his vice presidents and the Bear into a car and drove to the zoo. The Bears in the zoo said the Bear was not a Bear, because if he were a Bear, he would be inside a cage.

The Bear said, “But I am a Bear.”

So they all left the zoo and drove to the nearest circus.

“Is he a Bear?” the President asked the circus Bears.

The Bears said no. If he were a Bear he would be wearing a little hat with a striped ribbon holding onto a balloon and riding a bicycle.

The Bear said, “But I am a Bear.”


When the President and his vice presidents returned to the factory, they put the Bear to work on a big machine with a lot of other men. The Bear worked on the big machine for many, many months.

After a long, long time, the factory closed and all the workers went away. The Bear was the last one left. As he left the shut-down factory, he saw geese flying south and the leaves falling from the trees. Winter was coming, he thought. It was time to hibernate.

He found a cave and was about to enter when he stopped. “I can’t go in a cave. I’m NOT a Bear. I’m a silly man who needs a shave and wears a fur coat.”

As the days grew colder and the snow fell, the Bear sat shivering with cold. “I wish I were a Bear,” he thought.

Then suddenly he got up and walked through the deep snow toward the cave. Inside it was cozy and snug. The icy wind and cold, cold snow couldn’t reach him here. He felt warm all over.

He sank down on a bed of pine boughs and soon he was happily asleep and dreaming sweet dreams, just like all bears do, when they hibernate. So even though the FOREMAN and the

GENERAL MANAGER and the THIRD VICE PRESIDENT and the SECOND VICE PRESIDENT and the FIRST VICE PRESIDENT and the PRESIDENT and the ZOO BEARS and the CIRCUS BEARS had said, he was a silly man who needed a shave and wore a fur coat, I don’t think he really believed it. Do you? No indeed, he knew he wasn’t a silly man, and he wasn’t a silly Bear either.1

Advisory Lesson 2: What is Race?

Check In: What do you consider to be the most important part of your identity? OR What is race?

Define: race- have each student explain what they think race is

Create a web of all the ideas about race that students bring up

Then, read the quote from Julius Lester that race is a lie:

In the picture book written for children, Let’s Talk about Race, Julius Lester writes:

Just as I am a story and you are a story and countries tell stories about themselves,

race is a story, too. Whether you’re black like me, or Asian, Hispanic, or white, each

race has a story about itself. And that story is almost always the same:


Some stories are true. Some are not.

Those who say


are telling a story that is not true.5

-Ask students to interpret and react to this quote

Take 4 definitions of race- split students up into small groups and give each group one definition. Students should prepare to 1) Explain what their definition says about race

2) Explain whether or not they agree with it

Each group presents its definition of race. After each, ask:

Is this a good definition for race?

What does this say about race and racism?

Extension Activity (could be used after Race: The Power of Illusion movie)

Use the following list of inherited, biological traits to divide people into groups (i.e., first group people by hair color, then regroup by blood type, etc.):

Hair color

Blood types (A, B, O, A/B)

Whether or not your tongue curls

Lactose tolerance or intolerance (ability to digest milk products)

Left-handedness or right-handedness

Fingerprint types (loop, whorl, arch or tented arch)

Skin color (compare the inside of your arm)

Does the composition of the groups remain consistent from one criterion to the next? If the groups change depending on the criteria, what does that tell us about “group racial characteristics”? What are some reasons why we might classify using some traits, but not others?

The Meanings of Race

Read each definition of race and underline key phrases and ideas. You will use those phrases and ideas to create a web about race.

Definition I

The Only Race Is the Human Race

No Biological Basis for Race

New data from the mapping of the human genome reveal that all humans are incredibly similar – in fact, we are 99% genetically identical. 'We are all members of one species, Homo sapiens. Scientists have confirmed, as they long suspected, that there is no genetic or biological basis for race.

Genetic variation between people within the same "racial" group can be greater than the variation between people of two different groups. Many people of African descent are no more similar to other Africans than they are to Caucasians. Genetic distinctions between Asians and Caucasians are less pronounced than those between groups from, for example, parts of East and West Africa.

No matter how scientists today scrutinize a person’s genes, they can’t determine with certainty whether an individual is from one "racial" group or another'. Differences of culture and society distinguish one group from another, but these distinctions are not rooted in biology.

"Mapping the DNA sequence variation in the human genome holds the potential for promoting the fundamental unity of all mankind." -Dr. Harold P Freeman

American Museum of Natural History, “The Genomic Revolution," 2001 exhibition

Definition 2

In 1997, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) issued a statement summarizing its own research and the research of others on race. After noting that race has no scientific meaning and that research based on racial categories has resulted in "countless errors," the organization concluded that race is a social invention - "a worldview, a body of prejudgments that distorts our ideas about human differences and group behavior." The AAA noted, “At the end of the 20th century, we now understand that human behavior is learned, conditioned into infants beginning at birth and always subject to modification and change."

Definition 3

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

race n a division of mankind possessing traits that are transmissible by descent and sufficient to characterize it as a distinct human type

Definition 4

Poet Lori Tsang

Race is the myth upon which the reality of racism is based, the wild card the racist always keeps up his sleeve. The racist has the power to determine whether the card will be a diamond or spade, whether a Chinese is black or white. Like water, race takes on the shape of whatever contains it - whatever culture, social structure, political system. But like water it slips through your fingers when you try to hold it.'

Source: Facing History and Ourselves

Advisory Lesson 2 Extension: Race: The Power of Illusion (Film Episode 1)

Discussion Starters

Before Viewing

> How would you define race? What does it mean to you?

> How many races do you think there are? What are they? How do you decide which race someone belongs to?

> Look around the room or around your community. Who do you think is likely to be most similar to you, biologically or genetically? Why?

> Where do your ideas about race come from? What are the sources of your information?

Comprehension Questions

> What is the difference between a biological and a social view of race?

> Excluding your immediate family members, are you more likely to be genetically like someone who looks like you or someone who does not?

> Why is it impossible to use biological characteristics to sort people into consistent races? Review some of the concepts such as "non-concordance" and "within-group vs. between group variation."

> Who has benefited from the belief that we can sort people according to race and that there are natural or biologically based differences between racial groups?

> Besides race, what other things explain why some people might be more susceptible than others to disease? Think about the girl in the film with sickle cell anemia. How is ancestry different from race?

Discussion Questions

At the beginning of the film, the students are asked to predict whom they will be most like when they compare their DNA samples. How did the results compare with your expectations? Did you share the students’ surprise? If so, why?

Anthropologist Alan Goodman says that “to understand why the idea of race is a biological myth requires a major paradigm shift.” Do you agree? Did the film present anything that shifted your thinking in a major way? If so, what? Is it difficult to make this shift? Why?

Should doctors and other health professionals take biological race into account when diagnosing and treating illness? Why? Can you think of a situation where thinking about race as biological might be misleading or have a negative effect? How would considering social race be different?

Towards the end of this episode, the students are asked if they would trade their skin color. Would you trade your skin color? How do you think your life would be different if you looked like someone of a different race?

Turn-of-the-century scientists like Frederick Hoffman drew scientific conclusions based on what they believed to be true. How are scientists today influenced by their beliefs or their social context?

For many people, race is an important part of their identity. How do the following two comments from the film affect the way you think of yourself:

> “There’s as much or more diversity and genetic difference within any racial group as there is between people of different racial groups.” - Pilar Ossorio, microbiologist

> “Every single one of us is a mongrel.” - student

Athletics is one arena where talking about ideas of inborn racial differences remains common. Why do you think some populations or groups seem to dominate certain sports but not others? What does it mean that the groups that dominate those sports have changed over time?

Advisory Lesson 3: Susie Phipps

Check In:

What does your personal ethnic identity mean to you?

What would happen if you found out tomorrow that you were a different background than you thought?

Activity: Read Susie Phipps article - answer attached questions (Read both Susie Phipps story and follow-up text, or just the Susie Phipps story)

Discuss: Why would someone want to change their race?

Why does Louisiana have a definition of black?

Is it racist to tell someone what race they are?

Writing a Letter: Students write a letter to Susie Phipps- what do you think about what she did? Is she wrong to try to change her race? Is Louisiana wrong for stopping her?

The Susie Phipps Story

Imagine that you apply for a copy of your birth certificate one day, and when you receive it, you discover that it lists your “race” as something other than what you and everyone else always considered it to be. You are black, and the certificate says you are white; or you are white, and it says you are black. How would you feel?

This is exactly what happened in 1977 to Susie Guillory Phipps – a New Orleans resident who had always been white, both to herself and to everyone who encountered her. She had twice married white men, and her family album was filled with pictures of blue-eyed, white ancestors. The state of Louisiana, however, defined her as “colored.”

When she protested to state authorities, they carefully traced her ancestry back

222 years, and found that although her great-great-great-great grandfather was white, her great-great-great-great grandmother was black. Under Louisiana law, anyone whose ancestry was at least 3 percent black was considered black. Thus, even with an ancestry 97 percent white, the state defined her as black.

Susie Phipps spent $20,000 to force Louisiana to change her birth certificate, and in 1983 Louisiana repealed the law. Why did she go to such expense? Beyond the obvious shock to her identity, there are larger issues. Why does the state have a formula for officially deciding what each person’s race is? Why would a tiny percentage of black ancestry cause her to be considered black, while an overwhelmingly white ancestry would not mean she is white?

The key lies in the word “mean” in the previous sentence, for… what things objectively are is often less significant to human beings than what things mean in cultural frameworks of beliefs, values, and attitudes.6

Susie Phipps’ dilemma has nothing to do with biology and everything to do with the way her society uses the term race. Until the mid-1800s the word had a number of meanings. Sometimes it referred to a whole species – as in “the human race.“ Sometimes it meant a nation or tribe – as in “the Japanese race or the French race.” And sometimes it referred to a family – “the last of his or her race.” These usages all imply ties of kinship and suggest that shared characteristics are somehow passed from one generation to the next. These usages also lack precision. So did the way biologists used the term in the mid-1800s.

Nineteenth-century scientists defined race as “kind,” an identifiably different form of an organism within a species. But as knowledge of genetics expanded, that definition became less and less useful. As a result, one writer wondered why we “have no difficulty at all in telling individuals apart in our own group, but ‘they’ all look alike.” He went on to ask, “[If] we could look at a random sample of different genes, not biased by our socialization, how much difference would there be between major geographical groups, say between Africans and Australian aborigines, as opposed to the differences between individuals within these groups?”7 To answer that question, a number of scientists have studied genetic variations both within a population and among different populations. Their findings?

Of all human genetic variation known for enzymes and other proteins, where it has been possible to actually count up the frequencies of different forms of the genes and so get an objective estimate of genetic variation, 85 percent turns out to be between individuals within the same local population, tribe, or nation; a further 8 percent between tribes or nations within a major “race” and the remaining 7 percent is between major “races.” That means that the genetic variation between one Spaniard

and another, or between one Masai and another, is 85 percent of all human genetic variation, while only 15 percent is accounted for by breaking people into groups.8

Source: Facing History and Ourselves, Holocaust and Human Behavior, pp. 13-15.

Advisory Lesson 4: Eye of the Storm

Check In: Have you ever been pre-judged by someone?


Prejudice - prejudice is based on the word pre-judge, when we have an opinion about someone only because of a group to which they belong. It is based on differences, attaches false value to those differences, and is generalized to include everyone in a group

Discrimination - when prejudice turns into action

Introduce Eye of the Storm video- explain that it comes from the 1970s and uses language of the time

Have students journal after the 15 minute film explaining what they felt, found surprising, or questions they had

Activity: Watch The Eye of the Storm approximately 25 mins.

Discussion Questions:

Who in the film determined what differences matter?

Who decides in real life?

What is the lesson she wanted her students to learn?

What did you learn from the film?


• The Eye of the Storm DVD

Eye of the Storm: Lesson Plan in More Detail (if useful)

Pre-Activity Discussion/Questions:

This film is a true story made in 1970 that documents a third grade class immediately following the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Throughout this film you will hear language and labels used that are no longer considered appropriate or acceptable. Encourage students to understand the context and timing of this film and to have the maturity to learn from this documentary, not repeat the now inappropriate language. You may want to ask students why this change occurred.

Discussion or Journal Questions:

After the teacher motivates the students about discrimination (at about 7 mins), stop the tape and ask:

-Do you agree with the teachers line of questions? Why or why not? Where do you think she’s going with this discussion?

-When asked why black people are treated differently, the students respond. Do you believe that this is how people really felt towards people of different races in the 70s? Why?

At Tuesday Afternoon (at about 12 mins), stop the tape and ask:

-What did you notice about the blue eyed children?

-What did you notice about the brown eyed children?

At Wednesday Morning (at about 15 mins), stop the tape and ask:

-The teacher made some observations after the first day of classifying the students into two groups. Who, according to the teacher, is worse, the “privileged” people or the “inferior” people?

-In societies where there is discrimination, do you agree that “privileged” people are worse than those discriminated against? Why? Give an example of this.

When the teacher explains that it took the brown eyed children less time to get through the cards activity now that they were “privileged,” the students agreed that without the collars they could achieve more and faster. (At about 19 mins 30 secs) stop the tape and ask:

-Is this true in real life? Do people who are discriminated against have a harder time achieving success in the things that they do? Why?

After the film finishes, stop the tape and ask:

-What did you notice about the children when they were allowed to take off their collars and be equal again?

-What did you think of the lesson?

-Would you like this lesson to be taught to your own child someday? Why or why not?

Advisory Lesson 5: Little Things are Big

Check Ins: What is a time when you saw or experienced stereotyping?


Think of a moment when you could have done something good for someone and regret not doing it

Introduce the Story “Little Things are Big”

Read the story - have students underline key descriptive phrases

You can hear the story told online at:

Discuss the descriptions in the story

Then, set up the room- on one end put a sign that says HELP, on the other a sign that says Don’t Help. Have students stand in a spectrum, indicating what they think Colon should do.

Call on students to discuss what they think he should do, and allow students to move along the line if they are convinced to change their mind.

Read the end of the story aloud. Ask students to react aloud or in a journal

Extension: Have students create a T-Chart, with his fears on the left and his regrets on the right, finding details from the story

Ask: Would his decision have been different if he were black? White?

Little Things Are Big by Jesus Colon

"I’ve been thinking; you know, sometimes one thing happens to change your life, how you look at things, how you look at yourself. I remember one particular event. It was when? 1955 or '56...a long time ago. Anyway, I had been working at night. I wrote for the newspaper and, you know, we had deadlines. It was late after midnight on the night before Memorial Day. I had to catch the train back to Brooklyn; the West side IRT. This lady got on to the subway at 34th and Penn Station, a nice looking white lady in her early twenties. Somehow she managed to push herself in with a baby on her right arm and a big suitcase in her left hand. Two children, a boy and a girl about three and five years old trailed after her.

Anyway, at Nevins Street I saw her preparing to get off at the next station, Atlantic Avenue. That’s where I was getting off too. It was going to be a problem for her to get off; two small children, a baby in her arm, and a suitcase in her hand. And there I was also preparing to get off at Atlantic Avenue. I couldn’t help but imagine the steep, long concrete stairs going down to the Long Island Railroad and up to the street. Should I offer my help? Should I take care of the girl and the boy, take them by their hands until they reach the end of that steep long concrete stairs?

Courtesy is important to us Puerto Ricans. And here I was, hours past midnight, and the white lady with the baby in her arm, a suitcase and two white children badly needing someone to help her.

I remember thinking; I’m a *Negro and a Puerto Rican. Suppose I approach this white lady in this deserted subway station late at night? What would she say? What would be the first reaction of this white American woman? Would she say: 'Yes, of course you may help me,' or would she think I was trying to get too familiar or would she think worse? What do I do if she screamed when I went to offer my help? I hesitated. And then I pushed by her like I saw nothing as if I were insensitive to her needs. I was like a rude animal walking on two legs just moving on, half running along the long the subway platform, leaving the children and the suitcase and the woman with the baby in her arms. I ran up the steps of that long concrete stairs in twos and when I reached the street, the cold air slapped my warm face.

Perhaps the lady was not prejudiced after all. If you were not that prejudiced, I failed you, dear lady. If you were not that prejudiced I failed you; I failed you too, children. I failed myself. I buried my courtesy early on Memorial Day morning.

So, here is the promise I made to myself back then: if I am ever faced with an occasion like that again, I am going to offer my help regardless of how the offer is going to be received. Then I will have my courtesy with me again."


* The word Negro was commonly used in the early and middle years of the last century to refer to an African American. Its use reflects the time period.


Advisory Lesson 6: The Lunch Date

Check In Suggestions:

Activity: Watch The Lunch Date approximately 10 mins.

Discussion or Journal Questions:

After the woman misses her train (at about 2 mins), stop the tape and ask:

-What just happened?

-Why do you think the lady reacted that way to the man?

During the long period of silence while the woman and man eat (at about 6 mins), stop the tape and ask:

-What is going through her mind right now?

-What is going through his mind right now?

After the man buys her a cup of coffee (at about 7 mins), stop the tape and ask:

-Why do you think he bought her a cup of coffee?

-What is her reaction? Is it appropriate? Why or why not?

After the film ends:

-What happened?

-What does this film say about pre-judging people?

-What is this film’s message about race?

-If you were this woman, what might you have done differently?


• The Lunch Date DVD

Advisory Lesson 7: Street Calculus

Check In Suggestions:

- Describe a time when you were walking by a stranger who looked different from you, and you made quick judgments based on their appearance to see if you should feel comfortable or uncomfortable.

Activity: Have the students take a few minutes to really read and observe Street Calculus.

Ask “What are risk factors?” “What are mitigating factors?” You may want to write the definitions of these terms on the board.

Discussion or Journal Questions:

-What do you notice?

-What does this cartoon say about the relationships between people of different races?

-Does this really happen?

-Where do these judgments come from?

-Why does this happen?

Optional Activity: Have students draw their own cartoon that shows the risk factors and mitigating factors that others might have of them.


• Copies of Street Calculus or projection

• Optional Activity: paper, pencils, and/or markers

Advisory Lesson 8: Being Black (this piece can be paired with Princess Oreo)

Check In: Do you feel there is pressure on you to act a certain way because of your race or ethnicity? If yes, what kind of pressure?

Introduction: Being Black is a 6 minute 2003 radio piece created by Allison Jones, a high school student in Brooklyn, as part of the WNYC youth-produced radio series, Radio Rookies.

Here is the online url for the radio story:

Background: Allison Jones spends her time in two very different Brooklyn neighborhoods: Brooklyn Heights where she works and goes to school, and Bedford-Stuyvesant (Bed-Stuy) where she lives with her family and gets teased for "talking white."

Allison's friends at school accept her and her academic goals, but Allison feels the Black people in her neighborhood conform to negative stereotypes and expect her to do the same. Before Allison leaves both neighborhoods to go to Haverford College, she is exploring what it means to her to be Black.

Discussion Questions:

The following are quotes from Allison’s Jones piece. Respond to the following quotes:

Why did kids make fun of Allison when she was little?

Respond: “It always bothered me that I’m supposed to look white, but not act white.”

Respond: “I don’t think I should hang with people just because they’re black. I feel like I should hang out with who I want to hang out.”

Respond: Allison’s friend, Sam: “I think I have a lot more demanded on me because I’m an African American and it’s really important that I get an education and that I carry myself well because there are so many negative images out there.”

Respond: “How she acts really shouldn’t represent anyone else but herself.”

Respond: “The problem is that not just that white people stereotypes blacks, but the bigger problem is that blacks also buy into the stereotypes and don’t try to better themselves.”

Advisory Lesson 9: Princess Oreo (this piece can be paired with Being Black)


Advisory Lesson 10: A Girl Like Me

Check In Suggestions:

- What makes a girl (or a guy) beautiful (or handsome)?

Activity: Watch A Girl Like Me, 7:08 mins. This film was the recipient of the Diversity Award at the sixth annual Media That Matters Film Festival.

Film available at: (I also think Bethany has a copy.)

Discussion or Journal Questions:

- What did you notice?

- What surprised you?

- Young women interviewed in the film say that beauty standards are defined by Caucasian attributes (for example: straight hair and lighter skin.) Do you agree?

- How is beauty defined by our culture?

- Where do these definitions come from?

- What is your own definition of beauty?

- What are your reactions to the doll experiment? Why did the children respond the way they did to the white doll? To the black doll?

- This film talks about changes that African American women make to their body to seem more attractive. What are other changes that people make to their bodies for similar reasons? Is it healthy or harmful to alter our physical appearance?

- The girls interviewed expressed discomfort in not knowing their own ethnic roots, which makes them unsure of who they are as individuals.

- What do you know about your origins, ancestors or heritage?

- What do you NOT know about your origins, ancestors or heritage?

- How does this knowledge and lack of knowledge affect the way you see yourself?


• Copy of A Girl Like Me

Advisory Lesson 11: The Eye of the Beholder

Check In: What is “normal” in our society? Who gets to decide what is normal, and what isn’t normal?

The Twilight Zone, Vol. 43 (Available on Netflix)

Netflix Page:

Introduction Remarks for Eye of the Beholder video

Our standards of beauty, ideas about difference, even notions of what is “normal” are shaped to a large extent by culture—the attitudes, values, and beliefs of a society. Where do those attitudes, values, and beliefs come from, and how were they molded? And what role do experts and people in positions of authority play in determining societal standards around beauty and what is considered “normal?” In this reading, we will explore these ideas by looking at a specific episode from a popular TV show that aired from 1959 through 1965. The Twilight Zone blended science fiction with fantasy and horror. The action often took place in familiar settings and featured characters that seemed quite ordinary. Their stories, however, were far from ordinary because they lived in an imaginary world just beyond our own—“the twilight zone.” In creating the series, producer and writer Rod Serling hoped it would prompt thoughtful discussions on social issues. “Eye of the Beholder,” one of Serling’s most provocative episodes, examines ideas of beauty and difference. Where do ideas about beauty come from? What is considered “normal” in a society and who makes that determination?

Discussion Questions for Eye of the Beholder video

Some questions and discussion points for you and your students...

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|List the words and phrases in the episode that you found significant. Be sure to identify the person who utters those words. (For example: |

|Tyler: “Who decides what is normal?”) What does your list suggest about the way difference is understood in this society? |

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|Who in Janet Tyler’s society determines what is “normal”? Who is “beautiful”? What is “rational”? What is the source of that power? Why is |

|“ugliness” a crime? While this show is fiction, it raises important questions about images in our own society. Where do we get our ideas about |

|beauty? How do we learn what is “normal”? What part does our family play? Our peers? What is the role of the media? To what extent do media |

|images shape our standards of beauty? To what extent do those images reflect the views of society as a whole? |

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|Our standards of beauty, ideas about difference, even notions of what is normal are shaped to a large extent by culture—the attitudes, values, |

|and beliefs of a society. To find out how standards of beauty have changed over the years, you may wish to check movies made in the 20th |

|century. Works of art can also offer clues to standards. So can toys—particularly dolls. For example, what do “Barbie” dolls suggest about our |

|standards of beauty? What does your research suggest about the idea that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? About the way standards change?|

|What events or ideas may have prompted those changes? |

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|Describe the relationship between Janet Tyler and the doctor. Why does the doctor seem to have so much power and Tyler so little? Who do you |

|think has power over the doctor? |

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|Medicine is generally viewed as a healing profession and science as a body of knowledge that advances society. What is being “healed” in this |

|society? How is society being “advanced”? What does the episode suggest about the relationship between physicians and other scientists and the |

|society in which they live? For example, what does the episode suggest about the way physicians and scientists promote the values of their |

|society? What does it suggest about the way the values of the larger society influence their work? |

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|Because Serling’s programs were science fiction, he had more freedom to deal with the issues of social injustice. To what social inequalities |

|might this episode refer? How would you adapt the “Eye of the Beholder” for today’s world? What changes would you make in the story? |

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Advisory Lesson 12: What You Lookin’ at, Willis?

Check In Suggestions:

- Name a perception or stereotype that exists about either your race or someone else’s race

Activity: Read What You Lookin’ at, Willis?

Discussion or Journal Questions:

- What are some of the perceptions that the author has about black teens? Why did he have these perceptions?

- Do you think that the author is overreacting and assuming that people are judging him? Why or why not?

- Does the media contribute to these perceptions? How?

- What advice does the author give to the readers?


• Copies of What You Lookin’ at, Willis?

Advisory Lesson 13: Walking While Arab

Check In Suggestions:

- Describe a time when you or someone else was discriminated against

Activity: Read Walking While Arab

Discussion or Journal Questions:

- How did the author feel when she was discriminated against?

- How did other people in the story react?

- What were some of the long term effects of discrimination according to the author?

- How did the author overcome her fear of discrimination?

Optional Activity: Ask students if they heard about the recent debate over the proposal to build a mosque near the World Trade Center. Give students the Daily News article Plan for Mosque Near World Trade Center Site Moves Ahead. Highlight quotes and statements that support the plan for the mosque and underline quotes and statements that oppose the plan for the mosque.

Discussion Questions:

- How do you feel about the plan for the mosque?

- Suggest a compromise so that both sides could be happy.


• Copies of Walking While Arab

• Optional Activity: copies of Plan for Mosque Near World Trade Center Site Moves Ahead

Public Service Announcement

Advisory Project

We have looked closely at how our society has divided people into categories based on race, and how those categories and divisions have helped to foster prejudice and stereotypes. They have changed the way we see other people, how other people see us, and how even we see ourselves. Now that we have a better understanding of how race, ethnicity, prejudice, and stereotypes operate in our society, our job is to create a PSA – Public Service Announcements – that will help to challenge people’s misconceptions, stereotypes, and prejudices. We will share our PSAs with the whole school at a celebration in the auditorium.


Your PSA can take many different forms. You can:

• Create a performance piece that you perform (a dialogue, skit, or even tv commercial)

• Write a song or poem that you sing or read

• Create a poster that we display


You can work alone or with a group up to four people.


All PSAs must be performed or displayed for an audience.


| |Outstanding |Good |Competent |Not Ready for |

| | | | |Celebration |

|Clear, powerful, positive | | | | |

|message about gender | | | | |

|Creative and original | | | | |

|Professional Work Habits | | | | |

|(cooperative, on time, | | | | |

|focused) | | | | |


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