The events in the US have brought tears of sorrow, anger and frustration. This has mirrored the UK regarding Grenfell, the Windrush scandal and the disproportionate effects of the coronavirus on minority-ethnic communities. It has led to many questions about what can be done, especially in schools and classrooms, to help students make sense of it all.
Teaching in England is not as equipped as you might think to discuss issues of race and racism – despite our apparent fascination with US civil rights and the nazis as part of our GCSE and A-Level courses.
Below are some resources that will help teachers think through some of the issues. The list is not exhaustive, but should provide enough coverage to ask better questions about the enquiry you teach, your approach and how these notions affect curriculum choices.
The Runnymede Trust has a number of resources that are helpful.
- The Runnymede School Report: Race, Education and Inequality in Contemporary Britain.
- Making British Histories: Diversity and the National Curriculum.
- History Lessons: Teaching Diversity In and Through the History National Curriculum.
In terms of books, there are so many that I could reference, but I have tried to limit to a few texts that provide a basic overview covering periods we normally teach in schools as well as ideas that are covered in history, politics and sociology at A level:
- Francisco Bethencourt’s Racisms: From the Crusades to the Twentieth Century provides an interdisciplinary focus that covers geographic areas and time periods.
- The edited collection Race in Early Modern England: A Documentary Companion provides a wide range of material that is not usually discussed or covered in early modern courses at school level (recommended by Kerry Apps).
- The Racial Contract by Charles W Mills shows how the notion of the "social contract", a fundamental idea of political philosophy and politics, was predicated on race and exclusionary rather than inclusive.
- Race and the Enlightenment: A Reader edited by Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze provides examples of how some of the fundamental ideas of modern society are shaped by racial ideas and racism.
- Ali Rattansi’s Racism: A Short Introduction provides a brief exploration of the concept.
- Adam Rutherford’s How to Argue with a Racist reveals how scientific evidence has been twisted to legitimise the category of race and enabled racist thinking.
- Paul Gilroy’s There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack explores how notions of race and racism are deployed to maintain and extend state and government power with a focus on the UK.
In terms of films, I highly recommend the BBC’s Racism: A History. This three-part series – available on YouTube – is underrated but brilliant. The producer, David Okuefuna, also made Hitler’s Forgotten Victims about Afro-Germans in Nazi Germany.
Again, the above is not meant to be a solution, but a way to improve what you are doing in your classroom, department and school.
A version of this blog first appeared on nickdennis.com.
Nick Dennis is director of studies at St Francis’ College, Hertfordshire. He tweets @nickdennis