Degree Type

Creative Component

Semester of Graduation

Summer 2020



First Major Professor

Donna Niday


Master of Arts (MA)




After reading, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, I was paralyzed thinking about how many Black people are killed each day just because of the color of their skin. I will use the terms Black or People of Color to address Black/African Americans who are born in the United States, and who are the descendants of enslaved people from Africa. Throughout the text, I capitalized Blacks and lowercased whites. I defended my reasoning by saying this: the capitalization of Blacks but not whites to make a point about injustice between races. By elevating Blacks, we help fight the cause of Black Lives Matter. This is the premise for why I'm only giving power to the silenced marginalized voices within my creative component to allow them to be heard by the majority.

For the purpose of clarity, I will define some of the prominent terms in this paper. I define racism as a belief that one’s own racial or ethnic group is superior, or that other such groups represent a threat to one’s cultural identity, racial integrity, or economic well-being; (also) a belief that the members of different racial or ethnic groups possess specific characteristics, abilities, or qualities, which can be compared and evaluated. Prejudice is a preconceived opinion not based on reason or experience; bias, partiality, unreasoned dislike, hostility, or antagonism towards, or discrimination against, a race, sex, or other class of people. An antiracist is someone who is an opponent of racism. An ally is someone who does not identify as Black but is willing to stand up for ideas that affect People of Color. Carlin Borsheim-Black, who teaches English education and some young adult literature courses at Central Michigan University, focuses her research and teaching priority on antiracist literature instruction, especially in predominantly white and rural communities. Borsheim-Black defines institutional racism as instances “when institutions or organizations, including educational ones, have standard operating procedures (intended or unintended) that hurt members of one or more races in relation to members of the dominant race” (411). She also defines societal racism exists “when prevailing cultural assumptions, norms, concepts, habits, and expectations favor one race over one or more other races” (411). Borsheim-Black defines epistemological racism as that which exists because “current research epistemologies—positivism to postmodernisms/ poststructuralisms—arise out of the social history and culture of the dominant race and logically reflect and reinforce that social history and that racial group (while excluding the epistemologies of other races/cultures) with negative results for people of color” (411).

Robin DiAngelo points out in her book that racism is taught in schools. It is ingrained into us at an early age. What causes these ideas to take place? What makes white people think it is acceptable to treat people differently based on their skin color? What can society do to break the cycle of racism? As I think about these questions, I want students to know why this happens. I need students to start to answer these questions, but I also want to begin to change the thinking of the future of the American people. I know the younger they begin talking about these concepts, the easier it is to buy into different ideas. If schools are the playground that teaches racism, then we need to change the playground to include all children.

Students are witnessing protesting and rioting but may not comprehend why Blacks feel this is the answer to George Floyd’s death. What students need to learn is the Black perspective and how they have been oppressed for generations. I want students to become allies for Blacks to assist in the fight against racism. I want students to identify influential Black marginalized voices to imitate in the culture. Hopefully, these Black marginalized voices will help students become upstanders in the community as they fight against oppression.

When I began my research, I started by looking at when People of Color received rights in the United States versus when they actually had rights in the states. This contrast was alarming to me. I uncovered that the Civil Rights Movement ended in 1968, but in many states, it was not until the 1980s that Blacks saw a change in how they were treated. In fact, after the Civil Rights Movement, whites continued to abuse Blacks by continuing to follow Jim Crow Laws and enacting the KKK (DiAngelo). During this time, lynching increased, and so did the numbers of innocent Black men and women in prison. Many people believe that after the Civil Rights Movement, Black people were free in the North. However, even though Iowa was in the North, the state did not have a Black firefighter until 1986. Blacks were not hired to be firefighters until 18 years later, and Iowa is considered part of the North (Silag 312-3).

After conducting research, I decided that I would use this creative component to design a class that students would complete with the primary goal of answering one question: "How do we end racism?" The class will focus on Black history and literature written by Black authors. This class will be for juniors and seniors in high school. In Chapter 2, I will describe how this class will be designed around the fundamentals of Project-Based Learning (PBL). I will use Situated Learning Theory, Critical Race Theory, Anti-racist pedagogy, paired with Kagan's grouping techniques and terminology from Bloom's Taxonomy, with regards to how students will design their final portfolios for the class.

Also, in Chapter 2, I will analyze the literature used in this study: the novels One of Us Is Lying and The Hate U Give; the nonfiction book Just Mercy; excerpts from White Fragility, Surviving Justice, and American Negro Folktales; a variety of other videos and articles; and the film American History X. Then in Chapter 3, I will analyze how I will assist students in this class who have behavior disabilities in helping them remain calm while reading and discussing such a highly sensitive topic as racism. In that chapter, I will provide many types of technology to help these students, and sometimes the entire class, to relax so students can listen to each other and talk in respectful tones. Chapter 4 provides concluding statements for the basis of this class, its theories, and selected literature. Appendix A describes each of the technology tools described in this paper, and Appendix B includes eighteen lesson plans for this unit. All of these areas are aimed at helping students think critically about the question, “How do we end racism?

Copyright Owner

Reeves, Courtney

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