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Racial Justice

The oppression of and violence toward people of color has been strong and pervasive throughout America's history. Racism, racist attacks, police and military violence, and protest are by no means new phenomena and they will not diminish if the media, legislature, and ordinary U.S.citizens stop focusing on them. For these reasons, we believe that school counselors must constantly work for racial and social justice for those students who experience injustice daily. School counselors wear many hats, none as important as creating a safe, equitable school environment for all students regardless of race, gender, class, religion, ability, sexual identity, or any other social identity. Social justice advocacy is essential to the school counseling position and profession. To be an advocate is to listen to students, families, and coworkers. Give them space to voice and process their pain. Be conscious of your own biases as you do so and continuously work not only to educate your students, but yourself as well. Find below a few resources we found most timely and relevant to support allyship and advocacy within and outside the walls of your school.  

Web Resources

Quick Resources for the Current Moment

Bystander Intervention Trainings & Guide to Bystander Intervention

To combat the current rise in harassment and discrimination and to also proactively prepare for the future increase of hate incidents, Advancing Justice | Chicago worked in collaboration with New York-based nonprofit Hollaback! and CAIR-Chicago to plan provide free bystander trainings to address the current rise and anticipated continuation of anti-AAPI violence. Hollaback! has also compiled an easy PDF guide for the 5 Ds of bystander intervention. 

How to Help Combat Anti-Asian Violence

This Time article outlines three easy ways to support asian communities and organizations, and combat anti-AAPI violence. If donating is your primary means of getting involved, check out this New Yorker article on 68 Ways to Donate in Support of Asian Communities.

75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice

While this Medium article may be written for the white audience, the ideas listed apply to everyone. The page is continually reviewed and updated for relevance and accuracy. Find ways to fight against the prison-industrial complex; educate yourself on how to advocate for criminal justice reform; learn how to fight for racial justice both as an individual and as part of a community. 

Your Kids Aren't Too Young to Talk About Race

Infographic that outlines the progression of child awareness of own and other racial identity aimed to make adults understand that children are never too young to discuss race. 

Learning for Justice (previously known as TeachingTolerance)

Learning for Justice provides free resources to help teachers and schools educate students to be active participants in a diverse democracy. Their emphasis on social justice and anti-bias is of particular use and importance during this time. Teaching About Race, Racism, and Police Violence specifically provides resources on racial justice and violence, and the article Teaching About Asian American Identity and History provides resources for starting conversations about anti-Asian violence and how to teach about Asian American history and identity. 

Moments Like Now Are Why We Teach

Chalkbeat's interview of educators across the country outlines ways to support and engage students on topics of race, social justice, and protest.

Social and Cultural Literacy Resources for Classrooms

A collection of resources for social justice- and equity-focused educators.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture has created an online portal titled "Talking About Race" that provides free resources to educators, parents, and those dedicated to social justice focused on topics like the foundations of racism in the U.S., efforts toward anti-racism, and how to build communities.

This resource is for your students. They can scroll through a list of advocacy campaigns and when they choose to take part in a campaign, they're not only making an impact, they're also entering to earn scholarships. Many of the current featured campaigns center around racial justice and anti-racism.

EduColor is a cooperative of motivated educators, parents, students, writers, and activists seeking to elevate the voices of public school advocates of color on educational equity and justice. Their list of resources features books, movies, and articles that help inform their work. These resources can be used in the classroom or as professional development for educators.

Building Equitable Learning Environments Network (BELE)

The BELE network is a collaborative of nonprofit organizations dedicated to the advancement of equity within the education system. Their website offers a framework for their mission in addition to resources like the equitable learning library that connects educators and parents to resources and recommendations for creating a more equitable learning environment.

Unconscious Bias: An Educator's Self Assessment

This resource helps educators understand their own biases and steps to take once they're identified. The final step described is to increase one's exposure and knowledge through books. Find below further reading resources that may be of use when developing your book list. 

Further Reading

For educators:

The following is by no means an exhaustive list. We encourage you to search for other relevant titles that expand your knowledge of race, racism, and racial justice, being mindful of how you can incorporate what you read into your practice as a school counselor.

NNSTOY's Social Justice Book List

The National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NNSTOY) has compiled a social justice book list that organizes reading by grade level. While this list is not exclusive to racial justice, it does offer excellent book recommendations for racial justice and may provide you with resources for other social justice education as well. 

Black Lives Matter Instructional Library

An interactive Google Slides presentation that organizes books for students on activism and advocacy, self love and empowerment, and black history (also offers books in Spanish). Each book is linked to a narrated version of the text.

20 Picture Books that Embrace Race

Embrace Race's list of children's books aims to engage the broad range of emotions and needs of diverse children in our multiracial society. 

Books To Teach White Children and Teens How to Undo Racism and White Supremacy

Charis Books & More provides this list of children's books for families, particularly white families, to discuss race and racism early. Having books around the house or classroom that facilitate conversations about diversity will help to ensure healthy, conscious children develop with the knowledge of racial injustice around them.

Interrupting Racism: Equity and Social Justice in School Counseling

By: Alicia Oglesby and Rebecca Atkins

Interrupting Racism provides school counselors with a brief overview of racial equity in schools and practical ideas that a school-level practitioner can put into action. The book walks readers through the current state of achievement gap and racial equity in schools and looks at issues around intention, action, white privilege, and implicit bias. Later chapters include interrupting racism case studies and stories from school counselors about incorporating stakeholders into the work of racial equity. Activities, lessons, and action plans promote self-reflection, staff-reflection, and student-reflection and encourage school counselors to drive systemic change for students through advocacy, collaboration, and leadership. The authors also conducted an ASCA webinar on the topic and the slides can be found here.

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools

By: Monique Morris

In a work that Lisa Delpit calls “imperative reading,” Monique W. Morris (Black Stats, Too Beautiful for Words) chronicles the experiences of Black girls across the country whose intricate lives are misunderstood, highly judged—by teachers, administrators, and the justice system—and degraded by the very institutions charged with helping them flourish. Called “compelling” and “thought-provoking” by Kirkus Reviews, Pushout exposes a world of confined potential and supports the rising movement to challenge the policies, practices, and cultural illiteracy that push countless students out of school and into unhealthy, unstable, and often unsafe futures.

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race

By: Beverly Daniel Tatum

Walk into any racially mixed high school and you will see Black, White, and Latino youth clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a coping strategy? Beverly Daniel Tatum, a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about enabling communication across racial and ethnic divides. These topics have only become more urgent as the national conversation about race is increasingly acrimonious. This fully revised edition is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.

Fatal Invention: How Science, Politics, and Big Business Re-create Race in the Twenty-First Century

By: Dorothy Roberts

This groundbreaking book by the acclaimed Dorothy Roberts examines how the myth of biological concept of race—revived by purportedly cutting–edge science, race-specific drugs, genetic testing, and DNA databases—continues to undermine a just society and promote inequality in a supposedly “post-racial” era. Named one of the ten best black nonfiction books 2011 by, Fatal Invention offers a timely and “provocative analysis” (Nature) of race, science, and politics by one of the nation’s leading legal scholars and social critics.

The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America

By: Khalil Gibran Muhammad

Lynch mobs, chain gangs, and popular views of black southern criminals that defined the Jim Crow South are well known. We know less about the role of the urban North in shaping views of race and crime in American society. Following the 1890 census, the first to measure the generation of African Americans born after slavery, crime statistics, new migration and immigration trends, and symbolic references to America as the promised land of opportunity were woven into a cautionary tale about the exceptional threat black people posed to modern urban society. Excessive arrest rates and overrepresentation in northern prisons were seen by many whites—liberals and conservatives, northerners and southerners—as indisputable proof of blacks’ inferiority. In the heyday of “separate but equal,” what else but pathology could explain black failure in the “land of opportunity”? The idea of black criminality was crucial to the making of modern urban America, as were African Americans’ own ideas about race and crime. Chronicling the emergence of deeply embedded notions of black people as a dangerous race of criminals by explicit contrast to working-class whites and European immigrants, Khalil Gibran Muhammad reveals the influence such ideas have had on urban development and social policies.

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America

By: James Forman, Jr.

Former public defender James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color. In the Pulitzer Prize Winning book, Locking Up Our Own, he seeks to understand the war on crime that began in the 1970s and why it was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers.

Between the World and Me

By: Ta-Nehisi Coates

In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation’s history and current crisis. Americans have built an empire on the idea of “race,” a falsehood that damages us all but falls most heavily on the bodies of black women and men—bodies exploited through slavery and segregation, and, today, threatened, locked up, and murdered out of all proportion. What is it like to inhabit a black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we all honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden? Between the World and Me is Ta-Nehisi Coates’s attempt to answer these questions in a letter to his adolescent son.

Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do

By: Jennifer L. Eberhardt PhD

How do we talk about bias? How do we address racial disparities and inequities? What role do our institutions play in creating, maintaining, and magnifying those inequities? What role do we play? With a perspective that is at once scientific, investigative, and informed by personal experience, Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt offers us the language and courage we need to face one of the biggest and most troubling issues of our time. She exposes racial bias at all levels of society—in our neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, and criminal justice system. Yet she also offers us tools to address it. Eberhardt shows us how we can be vulnerable to bias but not doomed to live under its grip. Racial bias is a problem that we all have a role to play in solving.

Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America

By: Ibram X. Kendi

Some Americans cling desperately to the myth that we are living in a post-racial society, that the election of the first Black president spelled the doom of racism. In fact, racist thought is alive and well in America–more sophisticated and more insidious than ever. And as award-winning historian Ibram X. Kendi argues in Stamped from the Beginning, if we have any hope of grappling with this stark reality, we must first understand how racist ideas were developed, disseminated, and enshrined in American society.

So You Want to Talk About Race

By: Ijeoma Oluo

Widespread reporting on aspects of white supremacy–from police brutality to the mass incarceration of Black Americans–has put a media spotlight on racism in our society. Still, it is a difficult subject to talk about. How do you tell your roommate her jokes are racist? Why did your sister-in-law take umbrage when you asked to touch her hair–and how do you make it right? How do you explain white privilege to your white, privileged friend? Ijeoma Oluo guides readers of all races through subjects ranging from intersectionality and affirmative action to “model minorities” in an attempt to make the seemingly impossible possible: honest conversations about race and racism, and how they infect almost every aspect of American life.

How to Be an Anti-Racist

By: Ibram X. Kendi

In How to Be an Antiracist, Kendi takes readers through a widening circle of antiracist ideas—from the most basic concepts to visionary possibilities—that will help readers see all forms of racism clearly, understand their poisonous consequences, and work to oppose them in our systems and in ourselves. Kendi weaves an electrifying combination of ethics, history, law, and science with his own personal story of awakening to antiracism. 

When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

By: Patrisse Khan-Cullors & asha bandele

Raised by a single mother in an impoverished neighborhood in Los Angeles, Patrisse Khan-Cullors experienced firsthand the prejudice and persecution Black Americans endure at the hands of law enforcement. For Patrisse, the most vulnerable people in the country are Black people. Deliberately and ruthlessly targeted by a criminal justice system serving a white privilege agenda, Black people are subjected to unjustifiable racial profiling and police brutality. In 2013, when Trayvon Martin’s killer went free, Patrisse’s outrage led her to co-found Black Lives Matter with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. When They Call You a Terrorist is Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele’s reflection on humanity. It is an empowering account of survival, strength and resilience and a call to action to change the culture that declares innocent Black life expendable.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By: Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that "we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a "call to action."

For students:

Some of the following titles are also listed in the resources for educators above. Texts listed from elementary to high school reading levels.

Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story About Racial Injustice

By:  Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazzard, PhD, ABPP

Something Happened in Our Town follows two families — one White, one Black — as they discuss a police shooting of a Black man in their community. The story aims to answer children's questions about such traumatic events, and to help children identify and counter racial injustice in their own lives. Includes an extensive Note to Parents and Caregivers with guidelines for discussing race and racism with children, child-friendly definitions, and sample dialogues.

Hair Love 

By: Matthew A. Cherry. Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy.
Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair — and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.

Each Kindness 

By: Jacqueline Woodson. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her friends, they reject her. Eventually Maya stops coming to school. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, and thinks about how much better it could have been if she’d shown a little kindness toward Maya.

The Youngest Marcher 

By: Cynthia Levinson. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

Meet the youngest known child to be arrested for a civil rights protest in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963, in this moving picture book that proves you’re never too little to make a difference. Nine-year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks intended to go places and do things like anybody else. So when she heard grown-ups talk about wiping out Birmingham’s segregation laws, she spoke up. As she listened to the preacher’s words, smooth as glass, she sat up tall. And when she heard the plan—picket those white stores! March to protest those unfair laws! Fill the jails!—she stepped right up and said, I’ll do it! She was going to j-a-a-il! Audrey Faye Hendricks was confident and bold and brave as can be, and hers is the remarkable and inspiring story of one child’s role in the Civil Rights Movement.

Resist: 35 Profiles of Ordinary People Who Rose Up Against Tyranny and Injustice

By: Veronica Chambers. Illustrated by Paul Ryding

Resist profiles men and women who resisted tyranny, fought the odds, and stood up to bullies that threatened to harm their communities. Along with their portraits and most memorable quotes, their stories will inspire you to speak out and rise up—every single day.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness

Written and illustrated by Anastasia Higginbotham

The latest in the Ordinary Terrible Things series, a white child sees TV coverage of a police shooting—and has some questions.

A Good Kind of Trouble

By: Lisa Moore Ramée

Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she’d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.) But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Wait, what? Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn't think that's for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.

Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn't face her fear, she'll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.

Ghost Boys

By: Jewell Parker Rhodes

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing. Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.

New Kid

By: Jerry Craft

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade. As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

All American Boys

By: Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely

Rashad Butler and Quinn Collins are two young men, one black and one white, whose lives are forever changed by an act of extreme police brutality. Rashad wakes up in a hospital. Quinn saw how he got there. And so did the video camera that taped the cop beating Rashad senseless into the pavement.

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You

By: Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited. Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas--and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.

I Am Alfonso Jones

By: Tony Medina

This graphic novel tells the story of Alfonso Jones, a student who can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso. When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their new realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.

Dear Martin

By: Nic Stone

Justyce McAllister is a good kid, an honor student, and always there to help a friend—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can’t escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates. Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out. Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up—way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it’s Justyce who is under attack.

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