Help your students build a better world with these strategies, lessons, and tools.

teacher speaking with a group of students

White supremacy, and the concept of whiteness that it relies on, grows when it goes unnamed and unchallenged. In the absence of honest conversations about race, it festers like a wound. It's more important than ever to have these tough conversations with our students.

Let's be real: It might feel scary to take this plunge. But the thought of you and your students discussing race is much scarier to white supremacists. Frank, open conversations about race -- grounded in understanding, solidarity, and equity -- are dangerous only to those who fear difference.

We've put together some helpful resources, including lesson plans, articles, and tools, to help you get started. You'll need to make adjustments based on your student population and community, and you should adapt the focus for your grade level and subject area. These important conversations can benefit all classrooms.

Here are eight ways to make a difference.

1. Review the research on reducing bias and prejudice.

The two articles here offer concise summaries of the proven strategies for reducing kids' racial predispositions. These strategies are effective from kindergarten to high school.

2. Unpack "color blind" ideology.

Acknowledge and discuss that we have complex identities, and that while race is a construct, it can shape how we're perceived and the privileges we have.

3. Find relevant, high-quality teaching resources and professional development.

Dig into Facing History and Teaching Tolerance, the two best websites for social justice education.

4. Expose the history of racism and white supremacy.

Gain perspective on past and present incarnations of white supremacy and their effect on modern institutions.

5. Expand students' horizons through cross-cultural communication.

Counter bias and prejudice by helping students get exposure to and form relationships with people from different backgrounds and perspectives.

6. Focus on news, web, and media literacy.

White supremacists use propaganda, specifically on social media, to recruit young people to the cause. Give your students the critical skills to counter these messages.

7. Cultivate your students' capacity for empathy.

Racists demonstrate an inability to take the perspectives of others and acknowledge their histories, experiences, and feelings. Build this capacity in your students by practicing listening and taking perspective.

8. Empower students to take action.

It's important to encourage students -- especially those entering adulthood -- to take action to stop racism and white supremacy. These resources offer strategies, lessons, and tools to help students make a commitment to social change.

Image courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Tanner Higgin

Tanner is Editorial Director, Learning Content at Common Sense Education where he leads the editorial team responsible for edtech reviews and resources. Previously, he taught writing and media literacy for six years, and has a PhD from the University of California, Riverside. His research on video games and culture has been published in journals, books, and online, presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to be cited and taught in classes around the world. Prior to joining Common Sense Education, Tanner worked as a curriculum developer and researcher at GameDesk, helping to design and launch Educade.org and the PlayMaker School. While at GameDesk, he co-designed the United Colonies alternate reality game (ARG) with Mike Minadeo. This ARG is to date one of the most sophisticated to be implemented in a K-12 environment. Outside of education, Tanner has been a Technical Writer-Editor for the Department of Defense, a web designer, and co-editor and co-creator of a print literary journal.