Pathway 2: The 1619 Project controversy
The 1619 Project was built by The New York Times in August 2019 to explore how slavery shaped American instituions. It consists of a collection of essays by different authors. It garnered millions of readers and was initially seen as an important historical analysis. It became controversial though, when some scholars disputed the project’s interpretation of historical events and politicians like President Trump called it “toxic propaganda.” The NYT has sought to defend the project from these claims, but it’s still controversial right now because it exposes the two views represented in these questions: “Was America founded as a slavocracy, and are current racial inequities the natural outgrowth of that? Or was America conceived in liberty, a nation haltingly redeeming itself through its founding principles?”
The goal of this pathway is to explore The 1619 Project and the controversy surrounding it. You will analyze the text and the responses to it in order to determine which critiques and interpretations of it are most valid. Should schools use it in their curriculum? Is it anti-American? Does it combat or perpetuate systemic racism and racist ideas?
Pathway 4: YA novels
Some high school English teachers have started a movement called “Disrupt Texts” that seeks to bring more representative young adult fiction into classrooms. Among those new texts are titles that represent a “growing body of YA books exploring racial injustice and police brutality”. Some of the more recognized titles are included below. The goal of this project is to read and explore whether or not the books combat or reinforce racist ideas. Are the racial representations realistic or caricatures? Do they address more than just the pain of the culture or do they celebrate its successes? What does each add to the bigger national discussion about social justice? Some are rooted in specific historical events, some are meant to emulate the type of situations that the summer of 2020 brought to the forefront.