Tag Archives: Prejudice

AOS Journeys

8 Jul

A number of schools are looking to revitalise their Year 10 and Year 11 courses by introducing Areas of Studies that better prepare their students for AOS Discovery in Year 12.  A popular choice seems to be AOS Journeys.  With this in mind, I have compiled a list of texts which could be used as related material for a unit with ‘Journeys’ as the conceptual focus.  The list is not arranged in any particular order, and I will continue adding to it over time.

  1. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey (novel)
  2. The Ultimate Safari by Nadine Gordimer (short story)
  3. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (novel)
  4. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen (biography)
  5. ‘I am an African’ by Thabo Mbeki (speech)
  6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (novel)
  7. ‘I Have a Dream’ by Martin Luther King Jnr (speech)
  8. ‘The Manhunt’ by Simon Armitage (poem)
  9. ‘Refugee Blues’ by W.H. Auden (poem)
  10. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (autobiography)
  11. ‘Caged Bird’ by Maya Angelou (poem)
  12. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (novel) (or the film adaptation)
  13. September, directed by Peter Carstairs (film)
  14. Selected The Gods of Wheat Street episodes (television drama)
  15. The Secret Life of Walter Mittydirected by Ben Stiller (film)
  16. Cartography for Beginners‘ by Emily Hasler (poem)
  17. ‘Journey to the Interior’ by Margaret Atwood (poem)
  18. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (novel)
  19. ‘And of Clay We Are Created’ by Isabel Allende (short story)
  20. Cool Runnings, directed by Jon Turteltaub (film)
  21. For Colored Girls, directed by Tyler Perry (film)
  22. The Second Bakery Attack‘ by Haruki Murakami (short story)
  23. Americannah by Chimmamanda Ngozi Adichie (novel)
  24. All That I Am by Anna Funder (novel)
  25. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (novel) (or the film aedaptation)
  26. Grave of the Fireflies, directed by Isao Takahata (film)
  27. A Mighty Heart, directed by Michael Winterbottom (film)
  28. Girl Rising, directed by Richard E. Robbins (film)
  29. The Tempest by William Shakespeare (play)
  30. Hamlet by William Shakespeare (play)
  31. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt (novel)
  32. Anzac Girls (television series)
  33. Time’s Arrow by Martin Amis (novel)
  34. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (novel)
  35. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (novel)
  36. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (novel)
  37. Meet the Patels, directed by Ravi and Geeta Patel (film)
  38. Inside Out, directed by Pete Docter and Ronnie del Carmen (film)
  39. The Testimony, directed by Vanessa Block (documentary)
  40. The Lie‘ by T. Coraghessan Boyle (short story)
  41. Lion, directed by Garth Davis (film)
  42. A Sheltered Woman‘ by Yiyun Li (short story)
  43. Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey (novel)
  44. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba (memoir)
  45. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (memoir)
  46. ‘Home’ by Warsan Shire (poem)
  47. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (film or graphic novel)
  48. Life of Pi by Yann Martel (novel)
  49. Freedom Writers, directed by Richard LaGravenese (film)
  50. The African Doctor, directed by Julien Rambaldi (film)

‘Australia, I love you. But…’

20 Jun

While exploring Spoken Word poetry online I happened upon a collection of Spokhen Word performances gathered together under the heading ‘Australia, I love you.  But…’  As flagged in the title, the poetry flags issues that ordinary, culturally diverse Australians have with the nation.  Rather than complaints, these poems come across as pleas for the nation to do better.

In particular, I found Troy Wong’s contribution interesting.  In his poem, he explored the experience of being an Asian male in Australia.  I was also interested in the contributions of Sarah Saleh and Imran Etri.  Saleh and Etri spoke about their experiences of being Muslim women in Australia.  In doing so, they touched upon the idea of being doubly oppressed by gender and culture.

Further exploration of race and racism

23 May

One of my junior classes and I have spent a lot of time recently studying how racism and responses to racism are represented in poetic form.  As part of this unit, students have had opportunities to analyse poetry, engage critically with social issues, and to make connections to the realities of their own worlds.

I have been really impressed by how well my students have engaged with the ideas raised as part of this unit, and how willing they have been to present their opinions, engage with the views of others, and even revised their views when presented with particularly persuasive opinions by their peers.

Although the unit is almost over, and the poems have long been set, I cannot help but think about all the other amazing poems that could have been included.  For example, I would have loved to have taught Nate Marshall’s ‘When the Officer Caught Me‘ which begins with the quote “What is the age when a black boy learns he is scary?”  I think this would be a great companion poem to Maxine Beneba Clarke’s ‘Even if it gets to 104 degrees’ which explores the shooting of Tamir Rice by the police.  It would also have been interesting to allow students to explore Lia Incognita’s ‘Floodgates‘ – a poem about Australia’s refugee policy and governmental attitudes towards difference.  I think it would have been particularly interesting to study alongside newspaper articles on the subject

Youth Week

16 Apr

In celebration of Youth Week, SBS recently featured a selection of short films (1 minute in length) about the experiences of young people in Australia.

One film, entitled ‘Stephanie’s Film‘, showcases the experience of a young Muslim girl as she strives to overcome negative comments and become the first Australian ballerina to wear a hijab while dancing professionally.  The juxtaposition between the ugly negatively of the comments and the beauty of her dancing is striking.

Another film, entitled ‘Taz’s Film‘ offers insights into the experiences and emotions of an Indigenous brotherboy as he discusses his struggle with gender identity.  Here, the images of him boxing provide a powerful metaphor for both his inner turmoil and strength.

These short films could be used as part of units exploring Australian literature and experience, identity, youth experiences, and/or autobiography.  They could also be utilised in an introduction to the Year 12 Standard English module on ‘Distinctive Voices’ to help students to understand the ways in which experience and representation shapes voice and the messages conveyed by distinctive voices.

Poetry and social activism

13 Apr

I have written, on my previous occasions, about the role played by literature and poetry in particular in raising awareness and advocating for social change in regards to gender inequality and gendered violence.  I have also alluded to the role played by poetry in articulating individual and community discontent regarding responses to much publicised real world events, such as the Tamir Rice shooting.

When discussing with my students the idea that responses to real life events are often immortalised in poetry, thus rendering poetry a form of social commentary, many of my students expressed scepticism.  They simply could not fathom how poetry could facilitate social change or reach a sufficiently large audience to challenge perceptions.

This, of course, prompted a discussion about the power of language.  A perfect example of language being powerful is found in Bassey Ikpi’s poem ‘Diallo‘.  As suggested by the title, the poem is a response to the 1999 shooting of Amadou Diallo, an immigrant from Guinea, by the police.

In her poem, Ikpi speaks of the pain felt by mothers knowing that their children, their sons, are especially vulnerable.  She also speaks of the injustice when juries return verdicts that say “murder is justified,” and “cops win right to life when that brother is still without his.”  This sentence, in particular, is powerful in that is positions white men as entitled to rights and due process whereas black men, in contrast, are shot on sight.  Furthermore,  Ikpi strikingly juxtaposes the fates of blacks and whites, welcoming her audience “to the place where a black face asks ‘who will be next?’ and a white face answers ‘not I’.”  Here, the metonymic references to faces emphasises Ikpi’s view that individual identity is irrelevant; black men, by virtue of being black, are peculiarly vulnerable and white men, in contrast, by virtue of being white, are protected.

This text would be an interesting point of comparison to the ‘I Could Be the Next Tamir Rice’ article discussed yesterday, and also to Maxine Beneba Clark’s poem ‘104 Degrees’.


Inequality and injustice

12 Apr

One of my junior classes is currently learning about representations of racism in poetry.  As part of this unit they will be studying a poem inspired by the death of Tamir Rice.

While searching for some background on the Tamir Rice shooting to help my students understand the context, I came across this interesting opinion piece by a 13 years old activist and writer.  Entitled ‘I Could Be the Next Tamir Rice’, the young author explains how his life, and that of other boys like him, have been changed by the death of Tamir and how, by extension, there is a perception within the community that all African American boys are particularly vulnerable and endangered.  I am keen to show my students this article as a companion piece to the poem they are studying in a bid to help them to better understand how events shape public and private actions.


Power, prejudice and social institutions

18 Mar

I am really struggling with how to help my students to appreciate the complexities of power as a concept.  I am particularly keen to help my students understand that power can be wielded by institutions and that the prejudices of a community can render particular individuals or groups powerless.

The obvious choice to prove this point would be Harper Lee’s acclaimed novel To Kill a Mockingbird.  However, I cannot use extracts from this as a related text as other classes are studying it.  As such, I have been looking for an alternative.  At the moment, the best alternative I have found is an excerpt from A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines.  As in To Kill a Mockingbird, institutionalised racism means that an African American man must pay (with his life) for a crime perpetrated against a white man.

The excerpt is also interesting as it engages with the power that fear (caused by circumstances and appreciation of social realities) can have over an individual.


Prejudice as portrayed in pop culture

23 Mar

In their AOS Prejudice unit, my Year 10 students have focused their discussion on racism.  This is because racism is the form of prejudice that is most clearly demonstrated in Deadly, Unna?

However, I think it is important for students to understand that prejudice is not limited to race.  To illustrate this I want to show them a clip from the television show Empire.   This clip represents Jamal’s official coming out as juxtaposed with flashbacks depicting his father’s homophobic attitude.

Food for thought

27 Feb

My Year 10 students have started expressing some clear views regarding prejudiced behaviour.  In order to get them to clarify and expand their understanding I am thinking of showing them the poem performed by Dave Chappelle on Def Poetry.

This poem is interesting as it raises the possibility of multiple people in any given situation holding prejudiced views.  This possibility is not one we have yet discussed, in large part because prejudice largely goes only one way in Deadly, Unna?


What does racism look like?

24 Feb

Viewing the excerpt from the ‘Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes Experiment’ as part of our study of Deadly, Unna? predictably unearthed another flood of queries and opinions.  One of the interesting ideas raised was that the prejudice expressed in the Experiment was sometimes more explicit than that shown in Deadly, Unna?  While I agree that this is sometimes the case, it is not universally so.  However, I took up the challenge of finding a clip that represented the attitudinal prejudices that we see in the novel.  This, a short clip which shows a woman’s markedly different reactions to two teenagers, is the example of ingrained prejudices attitudes that I want to show my students.