Building Racial Literacy — Assignments

“Racial literacy is a skill and practice in which individuals are able to probe the existence of racism and examine the effects of race and insitutionalized systems on their experiences and representation in US society. Students who have this skill are able to discuss the implications of race and American racism in constructive ways. A desired outcome of racial literacy in an outwardly racist society like America is for members of the dominant racial category to adopt an antiracist stance and for persons of color to resist a victim stance….

….A pedagogy of racial literacy in FYC, as shown in this current study, cannot only build students’ reading and writing skills but can also provide them with a framework to make sense of the social injustices they will experience or witness as Americans.”

(Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Building Racial Literacy in First-Year Composition, 386; 388).
As the above epigraphs from Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz suggest, first-year composition can be a place not only to help students build critical reading and writing skills, but also their racial literacy - their awareness around systemic racism and its effects. Below are a number of assignments used by different E110 instructors which work towards helping students build racial literacy. Some are from honors sections in which the entire course is themed racial justice issues and building this literacy, and some from general sections with other themes. A few patterns seem worth noting in that they seem to echo findings in research on racial literacy:
-the instructors work to scaffold assignments  at least over several class periods, and sometimes for a whole semester (e.g. building racial literacy doesn't happen overnight, and certainly not in one class period). 
-there is a mix of class dialogue, reading critical texts, and also introspective writing. Having interior spaces can allow those uncomfortable processing issues in large group and mixed-race settings to do so. 
-there is often an example given by the instructor of their own experiences with these issues, modeling engagement and a willingness to be vulnerable 
-race is not just addressed in terms of having students consider experiences of people of color but also whiteness and privilege

Identity Map Infographic (General section themed around identity, Multi-modal, – Brett Seekford)

Close (Racial) Reading Paper (Honors section themed around racial identity, – Brett Seekford)

Racial Research Paper (Honors section themed around racial identity, – Brett Seekford)

Birding and Birdwatchers – Activity + Journal Entry (Honors section themed around environmental justice, -Brooke Stanley)

Kindness and Systemic Racism – A unit on systemic racism and kindness consisting of discussions, reflections, source work, writing project and reflection (General Section themed around Kindness, – Eric Morel)

Examining a local issue – A series of discussion posts, writing tasks, and readings leading to a writing project (General Section themed around Civic Engagement and Youth Imagination, – Shailen Mishra)