Teaching about race through poetry

It is 3:03 pm, and I am sitting in a meeting for “college supervisors”.  We are the people at this institution who are assigned teacher candidates to observe and evaluate.  We are supposed to talk about race and how it impacts our work and the work of those we observe.  

In the last few months there have been severla trainings on the topic.  August was devoted to exploring the role of the “professional educator” and the characteristics that go with the role.  October, we (the group of supervisors) talked about how to handle a situation in which a student publicly accuses a teacher of being a racist (I missed that meeting actually).  December was about equity, race and the language around both.  How do we [really] know out students in the classroom?  
I find myself thinking about a session on the teaching of poetry I led last night and the aspect that I didn’t get to.  I wanted to go through the song, “Be Free”, by J. Cole and talk about the poetic devices there but more importantly about the racial implications of this song, how it points to a system that was never designed to actually serve and protect people of color.  The justice system does exactly what it was designed to do:  break people, separate, criminalize, punish, castigate, ostracize, kill.  We never got to the depth of this and the role of the artist to call into awareness, to fight back.  
More later… We are called to return to the meeting.

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