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. 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 the recent 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 this 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.
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.
At this time, we must focus on our shared humanity, and prioritize learning and talking about the root causes of the current protests and the interracial activism. This is a time to come together, listen, learn, share in grief and in hope, and act for a more just, equitable, and racially conscious world.
If you have suggestions for any lessons or activities, please share them with us here.
For more information on this guidance, and resources, protocols, and practices for civil discourse, youth voice, civic learning and engagement, or K–12 social science, contact the CPS Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement at SSCE@cps.edu.
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.
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. The protests that have gripped our city and nation reflect the hurt, anger, and pain of generations of racial trauma. 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.
Responding to Student Mental Health Concerns During School Closure
This district guide provides guidance on responding to student mental health concerns during remote learning, including a list of mental health resources.
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.
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?
Mental Health America: Supporting Others
This article shares simple actions that anyone can take to help others who are going through difficult times.
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.
CPS Employee Assistance Program
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 citizens 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.
How do I start the conversation and support youth remotely?
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.
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.
NYCSchools: Fostering Community During Remote Learning~Teacher Reflection Guide
This guide provides reflection questions and ideas for teachers seeking to foster a welcoming and affirming remote learning environment. This guide can be used for individual reflection and as a jumping off point for group reflection.
Anti-Defamation League: George Floyd, Racism and Law Enforcement “Table Talk: Family Conversations about Current Events”
This reading provides suggestions for how educators, parents, families, and caregivers can discuss George Floyd, police violence, racism, and protests with youth. It also includes discussion questions and suggestions for how to take action.
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.
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.
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 for 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:
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.
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.
Here’s What You Need to Know About Breonna Taylor’s Death
This article provides a timeline of the events surrounding the killing of Breonna Taylor, whose death has received national attention and whose name has been included alongside Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd in discussions about violence against Black Americans.
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.
“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 citizens. 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:
How can I be an anti-racist educator?
Edweek: The Urgent Need for Anti-Racist Education
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.
Chicago Regional Organizing for Anti-Racism
Additional resources for teaching and talking about race, violence, and police violence.
NY Times: First Encounters with Race and Racism: Teaching Ideas for Classroom Conversations
This is a lesson plan from the New York Times on how to engage youth in conversations about race, including discussion questions, videos on race and implicit bias, and voices from youth about their experiences with racism.