Arts ELA Integration Lesson: Black Liberation after Trauma


My current curriculum is under construction. And that's actually a pleasant unsurprisingly event. This year, more than any other though, I've been very "responsive" to what my students WANT to learn or connecting what they learn across multiple subjects. During this time, especially with 7th grade, I am finding it even more so necessary to create a collaborative curriculum that connects with other subjects that are considered "of importance." Rather than ostracize myself even further by staying to myself with my silent protest, I am going to the source! And through that, they will made to see the necessary connections. "Meet them where they are at!" Charlene's words ring true again!

For this upcoming curriculum, we are asked to think about "Institutions." In ELA, the students are reading All American Boys. They are thinking about the varying experiences of young boys after experiencing traumatic events. The story is in split perspective between a Black boy and a White boy. They will be talking about topics of race, privilege, bystander effect, etc.. So, I want to focus on three main take-aways that I'd like to explore with the students: Racial Trauma, Bystander Effect/Altruism, and Masculinity. 

Students will explore works of art that speak about these topics and their varying perspectives. Ultimately, I want children to make a stance on these topics/beliefs. I'd like for them to take away solid beliefs or grounds regarding these major social institutions. Social Institutions are more vague, but them frame so much of "how" we do things. If I can get them to question the "why" then maybe we can cultivate productive minds that challenge "how we do things!"

Racial Trauma

Bystander Effect/Altruism


First, I have to confirm the existence of Racial Trauma because I don't think people see it as such. Students will need to know what "trauma" is and how to "recognize it." I used the video: to reaffirm where racial trauma comes from and how its a generational and institutionally supported act that plagues our entire country. Then, we can explore artists who present the existence of Racial Trauma in their work. How do we see "trauma" in art? 

We used these resources: 


For adults only, its good practice to think about works that evoke emotion as well. So, the Carrie Mae Weems exhibit currently at the MoMA did that for me. 

In ELA class, they can have follow-up conversations about racial trauma that adds enrichment and insight. They can use their evaluative skills of examining a body of art and text to find the evidence of trauma. Hopefully elevating the conversation to think about the deeper resonance of the events to the people experiencing the conflict. 

Secondly, we have to think about the Bystander Effect and how it works. Why is it that people usually don't get involved? Culture is a social institution. There are multiple ways to take this thinking about Art: the display of events and artistic situations where they are forced see the bystander effect in play. I'm thinking about animation, comedic sketch or political art. For example, in the animated film Horton Hears a Who, there is a scene where the kangaroo rallies all of the animals against Horton due to his belief of the existence of life on the atom level. All of the animals blindly join her cause even with no proof and the relational connection to Horton.  The baby kangaroo attached to the leader (mama) has doubts, strong doubts, but who is he in comparison to an army of believers. Its only when all is doomed, the Who's are about to be plumaged into a disastrous abyss that he "hears" and has the proof to step up. 

In political art, I can get them to see that "we" the people are the bystanders in the massive amount of issues that plague our communities. Two-fold, there are examples of bystander political art, but there's an elevated push here (higher-order) that gets them to evaluate the audience and the "power" that we may or may not have. 

Altruism is an interesting topic because it presents itself different across the world and then for each individual. So, I would invite students to explore cultural/religious staples of altruism for a people. For example, in Japanese culture, we can discuss the history of the Bushido code. 


The article discusses the major overlaps, but it also highlights some nuances. So, people from around the world 

SS - Police commissioner and his stance against defund police

Museum Labels: 


Racial Trauma: 

Psychological Process of Boys and Men:


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