Monday, October 24

To Kill a Mockingbird & Systemic Racism

Set in the 1930s, To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of a fictional white lawyer, Atticus Finch, who represents a falsely accused black man, Tom Robinson.  Told through the eyes of Atticus’ daughter, Scout, the book introduces readers to race relations and justice in the south.  Atticus defends Tom, and at one point stands up to an angry mob looking to lynch him...

Though our story is set during the Great Depression, America remains a deeply divided place in many ways even today.  Many Americans, of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, live in neighborhoods that are homogenous.  This often limits the opportunity to learn from, interact with, and befriend people who are racially and ethnically different.

Racism can take many forms.
  • Institutional racism is racism that seeps into society, including rules, laws, and guiding principles that inherently favor one race over another.
  • Structural racism is the way that all of these different components create an environment where outcomes will automatically favor one race of people because of the unfair disadvantages laid upon the other races.
  • Internalized racism is the racism that is within a person’s mind.  It shapes the way that they think and view others.
  • Interpersonal racism is the racism that one person can inflict on another in a personal interaction based on their prejudices.
  • Individual racism is the racism that a person feels and the way that racism influences how they treat others.
All forms of discrimination are harmful, but it is important to examine institutional and structural discrimination more closely, as they are often overlooked.  Systemic racism is not a single law or rule, but instead is the racism that is embedded in society.

Discrimination takes many forms.  The United States has made progress in eliminating some of the institutional, legalized racial discrimination of years past, such as slavery, Jim Crow laws, “separate but equal” facilities, and prohibitions on voting or owning land.  These hard-fought victories deserve to be remembered and celebrated, yet these advances are incomplete as data on social and economic welfare show disparities among races.

Categorization of our fellow human beings - whether by race, gender, religion, or some other defining characteristic - is a social construct, without which certain groups cannot be oppressed.  Each one of us, both professionally and personally, must decide what action we are going to take to address disparities.  Doing so will require grace, humility, and a growing sense of responsibility.  We cannot, however, overcome racism with racism, or discrimination with alternate forms of discrimination, without merely perpetuating these same wrongs.

**Parental Warning: Swearing and derogatory racial slurs occur throughout the book. One of the characters is on trial for rape.**

Our spine read for this unit is To Kill a Mockingbird

Get the entire unit in the World History Bundle!

Includes ten unit studies (plus a bonus!) covering World History. Each unit addresses a new topic, spanning from Ancient Hawaii to modern-day. There is also a study of archaeological concepts. Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together. Our family has used unit studies as curriculum for many years, and we hope that your family will enjoy these, too!

Product samples:   Motel of the Mysteries & Encounter

  • Motel of the Mysteries
  • Island Boy
  • Encounter
  • The Odyssey
  • A Loyal Foe
  • Indigo Girl
  • Gold Rush Girl
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Number the Stars
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • House of the Seven Gables (bonus)

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