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Units February 15, 2022

The Skin I'm In Is Not a Weapon


Lesson Summary: Students examine the historical context of racism by tracking the evolving relationship between Black Americans and governing structures in the United States. Downloads: Unit resources

This unit was created by elementary educators in Chicago, IL, as part of the 2021 cohort of The 1619 Project Education Network. It is designed for facilitation across approximately 2 weeks, or 10 class periods.


Students will be able to...

  • Describe the short and long term effects of slavery on society in the past and present
  • Analyze excerpts to understand the motivations of historical figures and understand connections to current events
  • Design multimedia to show ways to combat racism/prejudice

Essential Questions

  • How has racism affected the United States?
  • How can we not only cope with racism/prejudice but also raise awareness?

Unit Overview

In this unit, students will examine how the kidnapping and forced labor of Black people began the foundation of racism that is still prevalent in society today. Students will examine how Black people were kidnapped and forced into bondage and labor in the United States, laying the foundation of racism that prevails in contemporary society. Students will discover the historical context of racism by pre-Civil War images of Black and white Americans and reading excerpts from The 1619 Project that capture pivotal events in the evolving relationship between Black and white people in post-Civil War America. By examining the politics around President Abraham Lincoln’s decision to liberate enslaved Black Americans and the treatment of Black veterans almost 200 years later, students will study how Black Americans were often met with violence at the hands of police officers, and legislative limitations, like Jim Crow laws.

Students will make connections to the highly-publicized police brutality cases around the US that we see today, centering violence against Black children. Students will listen to Ghost Boys, a text that tells the story of a young boy who was murdered by a police officer for playing with a toy gun in Chicago. By the end of the unit, students will have read and listened to a variety of literature and informational texts, and they will reference those texts to communicate their understanding of how the past can affect the future. They will leverage their learning to create culminating projects showcasing how to move forward despite the challenges of the long history of racism in this country. 

Performance Task

Students will spread awareness about the harmful effects of racism and prejudice through a range of self-generated mediums which include, but are not limited to, public service announcements, poetry, fiction, posters, or pamphlets. These ideas can vary but a few ideas are mentioned during Week 2, Days 2-3. 


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