Race Story Rewrite Project

Back in November, just a week after Election Day, our Race Story ReWrite team was in Boston presenting three different workshops at the National Race Amity Conference. The people who packed our rooms were in shock and filled with emotion – rage, grief, fear, pain, despair, bewilderment. We were all still horrified by the racial violence that happened over the summer, and the vile racism that was exposed during the presidential campaign felt like more than we could bear. In the midst of that intense energy, we encouraged our participants to honor their emotions while at the same time holding space in their hearts for hope, courage, passion, love, perseverance, and possibility. We shared with them our confidence that the same disruptive force that is creating divisiveness is also opening hearts to an innate longing for connection. We guided them through a process of digging deep and tapping their higher capacities to rewrite their race story in a way that will help move our country in a radically new direction.

One of our workshop participants later said she was so moved “it gave me goose bumps!” Another commented that she had been hamstrung by her emotions for years and now she finally knew what to do. An elder woman told us that she walked out of the room feeling strong hope and a “steely resolve.” Several college staff members were so inspired by our workshop that they actually called a meeting with their vice-president in the hallway of the conference site and made a decision to invite us to their campus.

This is the work the Race Story ReWrite Project does, and you are the one who will help us do it. There are very few programs that bring the practical application of a spiritual approach to racial healing, unity, and justice work. We are reaching out to you because we feel that you believe in what we’re doing. With your donation we will be able to bring our workshops to the grass-roots organizations and the individuals who are driving the change that our nation so desperately needs. Please make your year-end gift now so we can teach more people the ReWrite tools, strategies, and skills that will empower them to transform our communities.

Over the past year we have given talks and workshops for students, corporations, conferences, women’s retreats, county agencies, and faith communities. We are currently in the final planning stages for a workshop that will serve as a pilot project and hopefully be expanded to similar organizations around the country. Several other projects are in development that also have the potential to be replicated in different locations. Your donation will be used to fund these projects as well as to cover the ongoing operating expenses of our nonprofit. Your gift will allow us to keep serving people who are ready to make a difference.

We know what racism is doing to our country. We see the videos and read the stories day after day. Our fear and mistrust of each other is being fed by the media and by those who stand to gain by keeping us divided. Yet we also know, in the deepest part of our hearts, that we have the power to turn this around. Our old race story – the one that tells us we can’t, it’s too hard, it’s human nature, we’re not brave enough or that we’re too tired, we can’t do this anymore, there’s no hope – is debilitating. We can’t allow this story to hold us hostage.

It’s time to rewrite that story. It’s past time. The truth is that not only can we rewrite it, but we are the only ones who can. Change will not come from the top but rather will be driven by those of us on the ground who see the possibility amidst the pain. It’s up to us to make the possibility a reality by challenging our own patterns of thought and behavior, by inspiring and encouraging our family members and friends, by cultivating trust in our cross-racial relationships, uplifting our communities and transforming our neighborhoods. Rewriting our race story is an expression of moral empowerment – we become emboldened to author our own future and determine the course our country will follow.

We have been told repeatedly by people who experience the Race Story ReWrite model that they haven’t seen anything like it and that, given the urgency of the moment, we “have to get this project out there!” We are committed to making this happen and we are asking you to make a commitment with us. Make your tax- deductible donation now and help us get our project to as many people as possible.

Thank you for spending these few minutes learning about what we do and how you can be a ReWriter. Your willingness to walk this path with us gives us great encouragement and strength.

You can reach us by email or phone with any questions, or visit our website at www.RaceStoryRewrite.org for more information.

With our gratitude and warmest greetings,

Tod, Phyllis & Gene
The Race Story ReWrite Project team

tod@RaceStoryRewrite.org / 202-631-2392
phyllis@RaceStoryRewrite.org / 815-715-6535

p.s. We hope you will enjoy this 12-minute rewrite story and share it in your circles.

Over 86,000 people have watched it so far. Would you like to see more videos like this one? Make a donation to help fund future recordings

 

15 WAYS CHILDREN LEARN CIVILITY FROM ADULTS

  •  Lead by example
  • Think about the impact of our words and actions on others first.
  • Treat children and adults with the respect that we expect them to treat others.
  • Apologize when we are wrong.
  • Disagree with intelligence, humor, and civil discourse.
  • Don’t let anger and emotion get in the way of listening to others.
  • Teach character strengths, like respect and empathy, at home and in classrooms.
  • Demand civility of our politicians and public servants.
  • Set ground rules for civil behavior at home and in classrooms.
  • Challenge people’s views but don’t attack the person.
  • Be tolerant of people who are different from us.
  • Praise others for their civil behavior, regardless of their viewpoints.
  • Empower children to take a stand against bullying.
  • Remind students often why we should be civil.
  • Teach children how to become engaged citizens.

. . .  Explore the challenges of teaching civility to our young and re-learning civility for ourselves. Go to our Resource :  Be Civil!

INTERNATIONAL HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY

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REMEMBER THE HOLOCAUST :
International Holocaust
Remembrance Day : January 27th.

Designated by the United Nations General Assembly,
International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 27 January,
is an international memorial day for the victims of the
Holocaust. This was the genocide that resulted in the
annihilation of 6 million Jews, 2 million Gypsies (Roma
and Sinti), 15,000 homosexual people and millions of
others by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.
This year’s Remembrance Day has the theme :
Children and the Holocaust.

RaceBridges Studio invites you to reflect with your
students, faculty, organization or group on the
many meanings of remembering the Holocaust.
View some of the short RaceBridges Studio Story videos
by professional storytellers or about the Holocaust
or Holocaust related themes.

Let us not forget. Let us be vigilant.

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Who is a Friend? German-Jewish Reconciliation After the Holocaust
by Storyteller Gail Rosen

Who is my friend and who is my enemy? Gail Rosen, a Jewish storyteller,
goes to Germany and makes a surprising connection to a German man
who lived through World War II.

 

Ancient History ? Do Stories of the Holocaust Matter ?
by Storyteller Gail Rosen

Gail Rosen tells the story of a Holocaust survivor. Why tell a story
that is not your own? How does understanding other’s stories
help us think about our own place in history ?

 

The Day the Nazis Came
by Storyteller Syd Lieberman

An excerpt from Syd’s book Streets and Alleys, this is a true story of
the day the Nazis spoke at Lovelace Park in Evanston, IL and Syd’s surprising reaction.

 

Remembering Lisa Derman
by Storyteller Jim May

Lisa Derman, resistance fighter, Holocaust Survivor, and president
of the Illinois Holocaust Memorial Foundation, died at the Illinois Storytelling
Festival, on stage, while telling her story of survival. In this story, Jim gives
an eye witness account to her life and her last moments and some of her
final words: “…the time will come for all of you to care, to answer the call
and stand up and do what’s right.”

 

One Righteous Man : The Story of Raoul Wallenberg (An Excerpt):
Aunt Helen

by Storyteller Syd Lieberman

This excerpt contain Syd’s Great Aunt Helen’s account of what happened
to her during the Holocaust. Syd taped his aunt’s story and tells the story in her voice.

Columbus or Native Americans : Who are the Real Indigenous Peoples?

Our country honors Christopher Columbus for his discovery of America. When he arrived on its shores, however, there were already people living on the land – Native Americans. Who, then, are the real indigenous people of America? Where do schools and teachers start when teaching this subject to students? Below are a few tips for teachers, and activities that get students involved. 

TIPS:

  • Do your homework. Before having students embark on this debate, know what the arguments are for each side.
  • Find books and other resources for students to use.
  • Find recipes of food that students can make at home.
  • Useful website:

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ACTIVITIES:

  • Set up a debate for students. Have one side research for Columbus and one for the Native Americans.
  • Invite guest speakers like historians, Native American leaders, etc. to talk to students.
  • Have students role-play.
  • Create a timeline of events and locations.
  • Allow students to be the historians as they research the First Thanksgiving to uncover details.
  • Make powerpoint presentations for/against Columbus.
  • Play Jeopardy! – trivia game after students have completed research on the topic.
  • Design a Thanksgiving meal that is true to historical accounts of the food available at the time.

 

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Go to our 5 Lesson Plans for November highlighting

Native American Month & Thanksgiving. .

 

What’s in a New Year Celebration?

Every culture around the world celebrates the beginning of a New Year, even if the actual dates of that year may vary. Each culture has unique traditions but it’s interesting to compare and see how much cultures share in common. For example, many Mexicans and Cubans celebrate New Year’s Eve by eating a grape with each chime of a clock’s bell during the midnight countdown. A wish is made as each grape is eaten. In another tradition, Mexicans make a list of all the bad or unhappy events over the past 12 months. Before midnight, they throw the list into a fire. The belief is that all negative energy will be removed as the New Year begins. At the same time, thanks is given for all the positive events of the last year and, then, Mexican families express their hope that good luck will continue into the next year.

In Japan’s Buddhist temples, the temple bells ring 108 times at midnight to represent the 108 mental states or unwholesome acts that the people must leave behind and disavow into the New Year.

Many Italians traditionally eat lentil stew when the church bells toll midnight. The round lentils are said to represent gold coins and eating one spoonful per bell is said to bring good fortune.

Gold coins show up in several cultures’ traditions, For example, in Greece, people cook a pie flavored with almonds. They wrap a gold coin in aluminum foil and bake it inside the pie. After the midnight fireworks, the family cuts into the pie and serves it. Whoever finds the wrapped coin is the one who will be especially lucky in the coming year.

People enjoy sharing these and other cultural traditions. Our classrooms, workplaces and community organizations are filled with people who have strong attachments to their family rituals. Finding ways to let people share the stories of their holiday celebrations and even incorporating some of their rituals sends a strong signal that everyone is welcome. Simply ask, “How does your family celebrate the New Year?” and “Are these rituals unique to your family or part of a larger culture or country’s celebration?” Always be ready to share your traditions as well so that no one person or group feels singled out.

The Spirit Survives: The American Indian Boarding School Experience: Then and Now

by Storyteller Dovie Thomason

This lesson plan presents a rarely heard part of American history — a true story about the crimes of forced assimilation of Indian children in the American Indian Boarding Schools.smdovie_lessonplan-1_Page_01

Kiowa Apache and Lakota Indian storyteller Dovie Thomason weaves a fascinating story of struggle, survival and inspiration as she tells her own daughter of a history that must not be forgotten and that presents lessons for all of us today. Texts, audio-download segments and classroom activities and resources are all a part of this powerful Lesson Plan.

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AN AMERICAN INDIAN STORY OF STRUGGLE, PAIN AND PROUD SURVIVAL . . .

This is a printable Lesson Plan with audio-excerpts looking at the original inhabitants of our land and some of the shattering events that were forced upon them.

Dovie Thomason, a Kiowa Apache and Lakota Indian, weaves personal narrative, the history of Indian schools, and the story of Gertrude Bonnin (later Zitkala Sa), the Sioux Native American woman who went through the Indian schools and afterward became a writer and activist for Indian rights.

This Lesson Plan with printable text and downloadable audio-segments presents Thomason’s original story about the inhuman practice of forced assimilation of American Indian children in painful and shameful attempts to “change” them into “white children”. Included in this Learning Unit are classroom activities and a list of recommended Resources for Teachers and Students to discover further histories and contributions of our American Indian peoples.

There are four segments to Dovie Thomason’s story. This Lesson Plan can be best used in presenting the story in two distinct sessions or classroom periods. It can also be presented with audio and print-text in one longer study-reflection session. This lesson plan is ideal for use in Native American Heritage Month, November, and around the Thanksgiving Holiday, (which often has distorted images of American Indian events) . . . or any time . . . as it seeks to reveal American Indian events that are rarely found in our history books.

THE SPIRIT SURVIVES can also be used in social studies and as part of the reflection and study of indigenous peoples and their challenges and struggles . . . yesterday … and even today.

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Lesson Plan

Download the The Spirit Survives lesson plan (PDF)

Story Excerpts

The following MP3 tracks are story excerpts for use with the Spirit Survives lesson plan. Please note that these excerpts are protected by copyright and are exclusively for educational use.

Excerpt #1 – Track One — 9:06 minutes

Excerpt #2 — Track Two– 9:39 minutes

Excerpt #3 — Track Three — 14:43 minutes

Excerpt #4 — Track Four — 10:56 minutes

Need help to download the MP3 Story Excerpts?  Click here for directions.

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About Storyteller Dovie Thomason

Dovie Thomason is an award-winning storyteller, recording artist and author, recognized internationally for her ability to take her listeners back to the “timeless place” that she first “visited” as a child, hearing old Indian stories from her Kiowa Apache and Lakota relatives, especially her Grandma Dovie and her Dad.  From their voices, she first heard the voices of the Animal People and began to learn the lessons they had to teach her.  For these were teaching stories that took the place of punishment or scolding, showing her the values that her people respect and wanted to pass on to her.

Her love of stories and culture set her on a path to listen and learn and share the stories—to give people a clearer understanding of the often misunderstood, often invisible, cultures of the First Nations of North America.  The product of a “mixed” background that is urban Chicago and rural Texas, Internet and ancient teachers, elders’ teachings and university classrooms —Dovie began telling stories “publicly” while teaching literature and writing at an urban high school in Cleveland.  So, she began telling those first-heard old Indian stories—stories about making choices—stories that could become a blueprint for a personal value system.

Why schools need to cultivate a climate of “Welcoming”

The news is full of stories about failing schools. Bad teachers. Low test scores. The education “crisis.” Our legislators and educators are spending enormous amounts of time and energy trying to find the cure for what ails our schools and our students. Yet, as we debate what’s at the heart of the problem, we tend to ignore one of the most powerful influences on learning: school climate, the degree to which schools offer a welcoming and safe place for children to learn. And by not looking more closely at this powerful factor, we may be overlooking one of the most positive ways to transform the educational environment.  

 

What does a welcoming climate look like?

Welcoming schools emphasize not only academic achievement but also positive relationships among students and teachers, respect for all members of the school community, fair and consistent discipline policies, and family and community involvement.

When assessing a school’s climate, think about the school’s physical surroundings, which make the first impression on students and visitors. Consider the language and images used in signs and announcements. Are they inclusive? Do they represent the diversity of the school’s populations? What books are assigned in English class? Do they reflect a wide range of experiences and people? How is discipline handled? Is it consistent and clearly communicated? Do educators work hard to create classroom environments that are hospitable for students of all backgrounds?

 

How does a welcoming climate affect learning and achievement?

All students should feel that they and their families are included and valued in their school community. Yet a recent study found that only half of high school students feel they are an important part of their school community (YazzieMintz, 2007).

To learn at their best, students must be engaged and motivated. Substantial research shows that students who feel both valued by adults and a part of their schools perform better academically and also have more positive social attitudes, values, and behavior.

Schools can be a refuge for students. A welcoming school conveys to the student a feeling of safety, in spite of what is happening outside the school grounds. It becomes a place away from the chaos around them. Creating such a place and keeping distractions away from the thoughts of the students allows them to fill their minds with knowledge.

A welcoming climate also helps students feel connected to the institution, which in turn is likely to boost accountability measures, such as decreases in absenteeism, fighting, bullying and vandalism, and increases in motivation, classroom engagement, academic performance, school attendance and completion rates.

 

How can we begin to create a welcoming climate?

Though it may seem like a big undertaking, even small moves toward meaningful “climate change” can have a big impact. Individual teachers have the power every day to encourage students to embrace difference, to develop a mindset of hospitality, to challenge stereotypes, language, and practices that promote “insider/outsider” thinking. Small changes give way to bigger changes, leading to more open and welcoming schools where students of all backgrounds can learn and thrive.

Download INCLUDING EVERYONE: Small Changes to Create a Welcoming Classroom

 

FROM MOON COOKIES TO MARTIN AND ME

By Storyteller LYN FORD

 

Story Summary:

Empathy grows from sharing stories; this story was shared to encourage others to know, to understand, and to remember. This is a personal journey tale from Lyn’s childhood living next door to a Holocaust survivor and, then, her adolescent small but mature steps into the greater Civil Rights Movement.

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  Ignorance can lead to misinterpretation of a story. As a child, Lyn misunderstood the meaning of numbers printed on skin. Discuss how stereotypes are misinterpretations based on superficial concepts.
  2. Fences aren’t always made of wood; walls aren’t always made of brick or stone. What fences separate your community, your neighborhood, or your heart from others who, superficially, seem “different”? What’s the first step you can take to get beyond those fences?

 

Resources:

 

Themes:

  •  African American/Black History
  • Civil Rights Movement
  • Crossing Cultures
  • Education and Life Lessons
  • Family and Childhood
  • Interfaith
  • Jewish Americans/Jews
  • Stereotypes and Discrimination
  • Taking A Stand and Peacemaking