Guest writer: Teaching Art Today: #BlackLivesMatter Teach in

On December 8, 20014, The Art Education Programs at CCNY and NYU hosted a collaborative lesson planning session to generate teaching strategies for teaching art about racial justice issues today.  Juanise Allen, an iConnect Mentor at Urban Arts Partnership, attended the jam-packed session and wrote this reflection. Photo credits are thanks to Eda Levenson.

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On December 8, 2014 UAP staff and Alumni attended CCNY’s “Teaching Art Teach-In,”, a collaborative workshop to develop strategies and lesson plans for creating art related to racism, activism, and justice. Processed with VSCOcam with b5 presetThe workshop was attended by many teachers, teaching artists, and mentors of New York City to discuss strategies about how to approach and educate our youth about the recent tragic and fatal events of both Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Faces were different shades, hair were different textures, and bodies were different shapes and sizes; it’s safe to say that NYC was represented in the very best way in such a small space. We began by watching a short video, with a lot of information about racism, police brutality, and justice in America. The video compared the life of Mike Brown to men of other ethnicities such as a White male, and stated that a White male (same age as Mike Brown, 18) would have not been killed under the same circumstances.

After branching off into small groups, many teams collaborated and produced a wide range of creative activities that would first, build trust with students and create a safe place for students and educators to even begin discussing these issues, because they are sensitive matters that should be approached carefully. Secondly, each team deliberated on lesson plans. Then every group shared their ideas. There were great ideas ranging from taking students to protests so they can experience activism firsthand and letting students facilitate their own conversations and have educators as participants to an idea that Urban Arts Partnership’s own alumni, Michael May (iConnect Mentor) envisioned. He suggested that we have engraved dog tags, which would be worn by children, teenagers, and adults, with phrases like, “Don’t take my life. I want to be a doctor; I can be the one to save yours.” Urban Arts Partnership’s Jamel Mims (Fresh Prep) also suggested that we educate our youth my using something our youth uses everyday; music. Over the summer Jamel and his students broke down rapper J.Cole’s “Be Free”, a song that focuses on police brutality against members of the African American Community.

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It’s important that we all take part in teaching our youth about what’s going on in today’s world and how we all can change things. From kindergarten through high school,  students should be a part of these sensitive but needed conversations. Visit The Stop Mass Incarceration Network | Mass Incarceration + … to find out about events that are going on in NYC and other cities throughout the U.S. pertaining to Mike Brown and Eric Garner.

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