Say Their Names
A toolkit to help foster productive conversations about race and civil disobedience
“In a racist society, it is not enough to not be non-racist, we must be anti-racist” - Angela Davis.
Say Their Names. Tyre Nichols, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless others that came before.
If you are planning on talking to your students or children about racial violence or civil disobedience, please first read “Don’t Say Nothing” by Jamilah Pitts. This piece illustrates how vital it is to engage young people in conversations about race and racism, and Ms. Pitts lays out the argument better than we ever could.
We hope that you take time to read, reflect, and engage with both the young people and adults in your life in conversations around how we can confront racism every day. Safeguarding our young people means that we all must do the work to think and act equitably, show up for our Black students and colleagues, interrogate our own biases, and live an actively anti-racist life.
We must always focus on our shared humanity, and prioritize learning and talking about the root causes of racial justice protests and interracial activism. Below are suggestions and strategies for educators and parents on having conversations with young people in school and at home about race, racism, racial violence, understanding biases, and how to take action for racial justice.
If you have suggestions for any lessons or activities, please share them with us here.
For more information on resources, protocols, and practices for civil discourse, youth voice, civic learning and engagement, or K–12 social science, contact the CPS Department of Student Voice and Engagement CivicLife@cps.edu. Social Science educators should contact the Department of Social Science,
For information on the CPS Equity Framework and supporting tools and resources, please visit cps.edu/equity.
Included in this document:
Where to start? Guidance for CPS staff, families, and community members.
Note: This is a living document and will be updated on an ongoing basis.
Make a commitment to:
Take care of yourself. Take care of others.
Engage our youth.
Possible facilitation ideas to engage students remotely
Open with acknowledgement
Engage in free form discussions
Close with self-care and a sense of hope
Resources for Realizing Our Commitment to Anti-racist Education:
Consider the mental and emotional health of our youth, our colleagues, and ourselves.
Violence has an impact on all of us—especially on our mental health. Emotional responses may manifest in different ways, including anger, irritability, grief, and hopelessness. We should be aware of signs of trauma or distress not only for our youth, but also for ourselves and our colleagues.
How can I support young people through this trauma?
When We Normalize Racism And Bigotry, We Do Violence To Our Mental Health
This brief statement from Mental Health America calls attention to the impact of violence (including witnessing violent events in media reports) on our mental health, and especially the mental health of marginalized communities. The statement also contains links with additional information and resources.
Addressing Race and Trauma in the Classroom: a Resource for Educators
This resource from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) is designed to help educators understand the interplay of race and trauma in the classroom. The guide reviews historical trauma and racial trauma, explains the impact of trauma on different age groups, and offers supplemental resources.
Managing Strong Emotional Reactions to Traumatic Events: Tips for Families and Teachers
This resource from the National Association of School Psychologists provides a brief review of anger—a common reaction to trauma—and reminds adults of how the reactions of children and youth are influenced by adult responses.
Mindfulness Techniques for Students and Staff
Calm Classroom is a simple and accessible way to integrate mindfulness into the classroom or home culture. Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to our present moment. The daily practice of mindful breathing, stretching, focusing, and relaxation exercises cultivates a greater sense of self-awareness, mental focus, and emotional resilience within educational and personal spaces.
How can I use restorative practices to host healing spaces?
How to Host a Virtual Circle
Guidance on how to facilitate and adapt the model of an in-person circle for a virtual, online setting. Previous experience facilitating in-person circles is helpful but not necessary.
Sample scripts for hosting talking circles from the Circle Forward book specifically related to grief, loss, and trauma.
Where can I find resources for myself and my colleagues?
Radical Self-Care in the Face of Mounting Racial Stress
This article from Psychology Today provides steps for cultivating hope during times of distress and provides self-care strategies for adults.
The American Nightmare
This thinkpiece provides insight to the mental, social, and historical impacts of systemic racism in America on Black people and how we have arrived at our current state in America.
Your Black Colleagues May Look Like They're Okay -- Chances Are They're Not
This article highlights the stressors of working while Black during a pandemic in which race is both a factor and a trigger. This article supports empathetic thinking and social awareness.
Detour Spotting for White Anti-racists
How can white allies monitor their own patterns of behavior through an anti-racist lens in order to not perpetuate white supremacy?
Avoiding Racial Equity Detours
Describes four detours to racial equity work and how we can identify and avoid them.
Talk about race, racial violence, racism, and Black Lives Matter.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
These resources explore our responsibility as educators, parents, and civic actors to discuss race, racial violence, racism, and Black Lives Matter with youth, as well as resources to help us do this work.
Please note that schools and teachers should provide families and youth with an opt-out option. No matter how well-planned and expertly-facilitated these conversations are, they can be re-traumatizing to Black youth.
What resources can I use to help young people understand the context of the present-day?
Recommended news outlets to use in the classroom
To provide up-to-date information on current events as it relates to racial violence and civil disobedience, we recommend these news outlets to use with your young people. To engage in critical analysis of media information look at Section 3: Pay Close Attention to Media and Information.
Teaching about Race & Racism this Fall Using Audio Stories
Listenwise wrote a blog post in response to George Floyd’s death and police violence towards Black Americans (ie: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, etc). Here they offer a curated list of resources to support educators in creating intentional spaces for students and community members to engage more meaningfully in discussions about race and racism.
Facing History and Ourselves: Policing and the Legacy of Racial Injustice
This series of Teaching Ideas is designed to help students think critically about the long and troubling history between law enforcement and Black Americans. Use these Teaching Ideas to help your students bring a historical lens to these complex issues, engage with nuanced sources that reflect a range of experiences with policing, and consider ways to build a society that ensures the safety of all people.
Ted Talk: The Urgency of Intersectionality
This Ted Talk video is led by Kimberle Crenshaw, founder of the African American Policy Forum and the #SayHerName campaign. Within this Ted Talk, Kimberle Crenshaw speaks to why it is important that we recognize the experiences and injustice experienced by Black Women as well as all those who are disproportionately marginalized because of more than one component of their identity.
How do I start the conversations about these topics and support youth?
Facing History and Ourselves: Teaching In The Wake Of Violence
This resource is a guide for teachers on navigating conversations with their students after news of a mass shooting, terrorist attack, police violence, and other violent events.
Teaching Tolerance: Black Lives Matter Still Matters
This resource outlines why it is important to teach young people of all races about the Black Lives Matters movement, its origins, and its continued relevance.
Talking About Race. The National Museum of African American History and Culture
Talking about race, although hard, is necessary. These tools and guidance are designed to empower your journey and inspire conversation. Many of the tools for educators are PK-12. And there are great resources for individual work, no matter your role.
Violent protests are not the story. Police violence is.
This article provides information about the root causes of the protests and emphasizes why we need to focus on police brutality and racial discrimination.
How do I support Black youth without inducing further trauma?
Teaching Tolerance: Black Minds Matter
This resource outlines the impact of racial disparities in mental health access and treatment and how schools and educators can play a major role in helping to mitigate those disparities.
Teaching Tolerance: Don’t Say Nothing. Silence Speaks Volumes. Our Students Are Listening.
This resource outlines the importance and duty of educators to acknowledge and discuss race and racism with youth.
Teaching Tolerance: Ending Curriculum Violence
This article from Teaching Tolerance explores how despite the best intentions, teachers can create “curriculum violence” that can have detrimental effects on our youth.
Let’s Talk! Teaching Black Lives Matter Webinar
Teaching Tolerance proudly presents our four-part webinar series Let's Talk! This series covers a range of critical topics that can be difficult to discuss with students and colleagues. This sequel to Let's Talk! Discussing Black Lives Matter in the Classroom, reviews the education related policy demands within the Movement for Black Lives' platform: Invest-Divest and Community Control. Participants will receive resources and a framework for bringing the Black Lives Matter movement into their classrooms. This webinar features EduColor's Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price.
How do I talk about race, racial violence, racism, and Black Lives Matter with non-black youth?
Anti-Defamation League: How Should I Talk About Race in My Mostly White Classroom?
This resource provides guidance and considerations for how to engage in reflection and discussion on race and racism with white youth.
Safe Space Radio: Tips and Strategies “Talking to White Kids about Race and Racism”
This resource provides tips for educators and parents on how to have a conversation on race and racism with white youth.
Letters For Black Lives: An Open Letter Project on Anti-Blackness
This resource includes letters written by Asian American and Latinx American youth to their parents about the importance of centering Black lives in any discussion on race, discrimination, and injustice. It is an example of how non-black students can engage in learning and reflection on race, racism, and Black Lives Matter.
New York Times: A Conversation on Race
This resource includes a series of videos on different racial and ethnic groups describing their experiences with racism, including the following:
Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? (And Other Conversations about Race)
The chapter from Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book “Defining Racism: Can We Talk?” explores the definition of racism, its cost, and impact.
How do I talk about this with elementary-aged youth?
Teaching Tolerance: Y’all Still Don’t Hear Me Though
This text for grades 6-8 features a 2015 essay by Lecia J. Brooks as she recounts her perspective as a protester who participated in the Los Angeles Race Riots that followed the trial of those who had committed police brutality against activist Rodney King. Her account details the pervasiveness of police brutality and why demonstrators protest against it.
Children Community School: Social Justice Resources
This site contains resources and considerations for how to discuss race and social justice topics including racism, police brutality, and protests with youth.
Edutopia: Teaching Young Children About Bias, Diversity, and Social Justice
This resource contains five strategies for engaging youth in learning and discussion on bias, diversity, and social justice.
Oakland Library: Talking to Kids about Racism and Justice, a list for Parents, Educators, and Caregivers (Pre-K and up)
This resource provides a list of educational resources to engage young people (Pre-K and up) in learning about racism and justice.
Media has power. What we see and hear shapes what we think, how we see ourselves, and how we engage with the world around us. Teaching young people at all ages critical media and information literacy skills is key for preparing youth for civic life.
How is this story being told, and why is this important?
Facing History and Ourselves: How Journalists Minimize Bias
This lesson from Facing History and Ourselves asks youth to consider how biases and stereotypes influence the way we interpret the world around us and how both journalists and media consumers address issues of bias in themselves and others.
5 Key Questions and Concepts that can Change the World
It is important that we cultivate critical media dispositions and skills in our youth so that they consume information effectively.
Edutopia: Social Media and 5 Key Concepts
Free lessons from the Center for Media Literacy using 5 Key Concepts/Questions that can be used with students every day.
How should I consume media at this moment? What questions should we be asking ourselves?
Teaching Tolerance: Living with the Bear
This article discusses how constant exposure to violence via social media is harming our youth, and how we can give them the support they need.
Teaching Tolerance: Teaching Students about Confirmation Bias
This article focuses on concerns about the impact of fake news by helping youth know and understand confirmation bias (our tendency to more readily believe information that supports—or confirms—our existing worldviews and to exclude information that might contradict previously held assumptions).
Teaching Tolerance: A Classroom Discussion About the Media, Trust, and Knowledge
This article encourages students to think through problems in the contemporary media landscape to help them become more active, open-minded knowledge-seekers.
How do we hold the media accountable? How are we accountable for the information we share?
Vox: Media Coverage of Protests Sure Looks Different when Demonstrators are White
This article examines how the media covers protests when the demonstrators are white.
When They See Us: Improving the Media’s Coverage of Black Men and Boys
This article shows how media coverage shapes the ability of individuals and communities to receive fair and equal justice and how persistent trends of distorted media depictions of Black men and boys contribute to negative stereotypes, inequitable treatment, and unequal opportunities.
When Reporting on Movement Actions, Revolutionary Joy Must Be Given the Same Space As the Struggle
This article is written by a CPS Graduate and discusses the importance of balanced media coverage for movement actions and protests.
Be actively anti-racist.
“In a racist society, it is not enough to not be non-racist, we must be anti-racist” - Angela Davis.
These resources explore what it means to be anti-racist and its importance to our role as educators, parents, and civic actors. We must first listen, then learn, discuss, and act.
What does it mean to be anti-racist and why is it important?
National Museum of African American History and Culture: Being Anti-racist
This hand-out explores and offers guidance on the the following topics:
Teaching Tolerance: White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy
A conversation about power, privilege, identity, and what it means to be anti-racist with community activists incuding:
The importance of Anti-Racist Work Within the LGBTQ+ Community
This article discusses the direct connection between gay rights and the Civil Rights Movement led by the black community. It honors the contribution of queer activists of color and calls upon the queer community to support anti-racist causes.
How can I be an anti-racist educator?
ASCD: How to be an Anti-Racist Educator
Included in this article are five actions we can take to be anti-racist educators for our youth, including “Engage in Vigilant Self-Awareness,” “Study and Teach Representative History,” and “Talk about Race with Youth.”
Edutopia: Creating an Anti-Racist Classroom
This resource helps us to reflect on our own biases and about our own practices in the classroom as we engage in anti-racist work.
As a person of color, how can I be an anti-racist ally to the Black community?
Research shows that a majority of Americans support the Black Lives Matter Movement
In this report the Pew Research Center finds that across racial and ethnic groups, a majority of Americans say both anger over George Floyd’s death and broader racial issues contributed to protests among other significant findings.
How Asians Can Show Up for the Black Community Right Now
Here is a list of ways to take action and stand up in allyship with the Black community. Through these actions, individuals can engage in continuous work on being anti-racist and take steps in dismantling white supremacy.
Hispanic Coalition vows to fight anti-black racism
Acknowledging racism within our community is not enough, in this article several prominent Hispanic organizations and leaders commit to 4 major actions in their support for black lives.
How Native Communities Are Standing in Solidarity for Black Lives Matter
Native Women Lead is an organization that is committed to using their networks and spaces to fight for justice and liberation. They share ways on how indigenous communities can organize and stand in solidarity for Black lives.
How can I be an anti-racist parent?
PBS Socal: How to Talk to Your Kids about Anti-Racism-A List of Resources
A list of resources offered by partners in public media and the education space, plus other trusted sources. Some items are articles or curations offered by institutions and academic experts, while others are collective works by community members. They help us embrace the wealth of knowledge spilling out of formal and informal systems to educate each other toward a more inclusive future.
Anti-Racism Books for Kids
This article suggests books by age group that can help you start conversations with your children about why people are protesting, and also includes stories with Black people at the center and of Black joy.
How White Parents Can Talk About Race
NPR's Michel Martin talks to Jennifer Harvey, author of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America, about how to talk with white kids about racially-charged events.
A Community-Collected List of Books for Young People that Center on the Collective Value of All Black Lives
The Chicago Public Library has a featured list of books that center on the collective value of all Black lives. Collective value means that “all Black lives, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location matter.”
Re-Imagining Community & Police Relationships
It is not only important to have conversations with our young people about WHY there is a need for change, it is also important to discuss WHAT those changes may look like. Use the resources below to engage young people in conversations around other cities who have engaged in the work of re-imagining police and community relationships.
How are others currently discussing and working on re-imagining community and police relationships?
CAHOOTS': How Social Workers And Police Share Responsibilities In Eugene, Oregon
Mayor London Breed pushes San Francisco reforms: Police no longer will respond to noncriminal calls
This article from the LA Times explains how San Francisco police officers will be replaced with trained, unarmed professionals to respond to calls for help on noncriminal matters involving mental health, the homeless, school discipline and neighbor disputes, as part of a new wave of police reforms.
Denver Police Testing Idea of Civilian Teams Responding To Some 911 Calls
Listen to this news report from Denver, CO about how the Denver police department is developing a pilot program that would dispatch civilian teams to certain 911 calls. Instead of a police officer, a team of mental health workers and medics would respond.
The Invisible Institute-Police Project
This website discusses how for the past four years, the Mandel Clinic and the Invisible Institute have been engaged in an inquiry into youth-police interactions on the South Side of Chicago.
Research by Mikva Challenge’s Mayoral Youth Commission-Summer 2016
Read the recommendations of a diverse
group of students who come from all over the city of Chicago to help bridge the gap between decision makers and youth on youth-police relationships.
What’s the alternative to police in schools? Restorative justice.
Read this article to learn how proper training in Restorative Justice practices in schools can lead to improving school climate and an overall decrease in school suspensions and a drop in serious incident reports.
In addition to learning and discussing the history of race and racism in the United States it is important to center resistance. It is important for students to understand how BIPOC (Black, Indigeneous, People of Color) and BIPOC Youth have exercised their authority and agency to challenge racism and help ensure the democratic ideals of this country are true. Learning about resistance movements also helps move students to a place of action so they too can feel they have the power to challenge injustice.
How have people of color been at the forefront of resisting and fighting injustice?
NPR’s Code Switch Podcast: Outside Agitator
New York Times: 1619 Project
Teaching Resistance in Dangerous Times
This resource from Zinn Education Project include lessons that:
Facing History and Ourselves’ “Understanding #takeaknee and Athlete Activism” Lesson Plan
This lesson plan explores athlete activism and the role of #takeaknee in influencing the national dialogue around racial injustice. This lesson also explores the historical role athlete activism has played in social movements. This lesson includes several primary and secondary sources as well as activity suggestions.
How have youth been at the forefront of resisting and fighting injustice?
Rethinking Schools: Teaching SNCC: The Organization at the Heart of the Civil Rights Revolution
Existence Is Resistance: Supporting Student-Led Social Change
This article from Teaching Tolerance helps teachers encourage students to take action against injustice and offers ways to support students- the author includes five practical lessons she’s learned in doing just that.
“Youth are Powerful” Diego Garcia, 18, Has Been Mobilizing His Latino Community in Fight for Social Justice
Read Diego Garcia (18)’s story and perspective on activism and organizing.
Douglas Park Will Be Renamed For Frederick Douglass, Park District Board Says: ‘We Have Heard You’
Learn about the efforts led by West Side students who lobbied for changing the name of Douglas Park for years, and the eventual unanimous vote by the Park District Board to do so.
Listen: Chicago youth leaders Miracle Boyd and China Smith reflect on activism, trauma, and growth
Read and reflect on the perspectives of these two young activists currently organizing in Chicago.
How can we take more action?
“How to Support Black Lives Matter, Wherever You are” by Time Out
This article explores 8 ways for anyone to continue to support Black Lives Matter and includes lists of organizations working to support Racial justice.
Black Led Chicago Community Organizations working for Racial Justice
Use this list to explore Black Led Chicago Community Organizations working for Racial Justice. There are numerous ways to be involved with these organizations and partner with or support that they are doing. A few of these organizations are also youth led and could serve as a case-study in youth participation, action, and organizing.