On May 17, 1954 the United States Supreme Court decision of Brown vs. the Board of Education of Topeka was handed down. This ruling outlawed legal school segregation. This ruling claimed that racial segregation in schools limited the educational and life opportunities of people of color because many schools for non-whites only were largely underfunded and resourced. Today, 64-years following this ruling, schools in America remain largely segregated and some are working to integrate people of all backgrounds into their school system…to varying degrees of success. America to Me is a STARZ television series by Steve James (Hoop Dreams) examining race relations in the Chicago suburb Oak Park River Forest High School in a community intentionally created to be open to people of all backgrounds. What they find, however, is less of a utopia and more of a reflection of current race relations in American society through the eyes of their students.
Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. In addition to the resources provided below, the deck contains discussion questions, an in-class activity, an online activity, and assessment questions.
Learning Objective 1: Explain the relationship between racial identity and experiences in the social institution of education.
Learning Objective 2: Identify areas of racial injustice that exist outside of education that can influence experiences of students in school.
Abraham Riesman, “Why America to Me Director Steve James Made a Show About My High School” (Vulture, text)
Melanie McFarland, “White adults need to watch ‘America to Me,’ the most important show about teens on TV now” (Salon, text)
“Indie Episodic program: America to Me” (Sundance Institute, video)
Sophie Grant, “America to Me Tackles Race in New Ways” (The Atlantic, text)
Eric Deggans, “‘America To Me’ Proves Issues of Race and Education Often Transcend Class Boundaries” (NPR, audio/text)
Sesali Brown, “America to Me Is a High School Intro To Race(ism) in the US” (Refinery29, text)
Emily Badger, “How race still influences where we choose to live” (The Washington Post, text)
“The great melting pot” (The Economist, text)