Let's Talk About Race
By Julius Lester, Harper Collins
The author, Julius Lester invites you into his book by writing “I am a story. So are you.” He discusses about how each individual has many different elements to their story, from family, to name, to likes and dislikes and maybe even race. However, he says that race is just a portion of your story, but why do people think it is so important? He explains that sometimes we get too caught up on race and make quick assumptions based on skin color. He shares his own story as he explores what makes each of us special.
Guidelines for Philosophical Discussion
By Nina Miller
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester offers an opportunity for philosophical discussion about race, and how racial identity affects the way we view one another. While thinking about their own life stories and hearing those of their friends students may begin to find that what looks like an easy question may not have such an easy answer. This will encourage them to break down their own assumptions about race and critically think about them.
The question sets “stories” and “race” bring up some of the basic questions about personal identity. They deal with the questions concerning the nature of self, personally identity, and the role in race in determining this nature. These questions will give the children the chance to try and understand and create ideas of being and feeling by exploring their own physical identities. The last question set “equality” will allow the children to question whether or not someone can be “better” than someone else and what does it mean to be “better.” The children will have a chance to think more critically about the effects and consequences of thinking one person is better than another.
One example of how to teach the children this book is to begin by having them write their OWN stories. The book itself asks some questions the kids will be able to answers such as: What’s your name, When were you born, Where were you born, Where do you live, What do you like, What don’t you like? These questions would give them a starting off point to their own story. There should also be some room left for creativity. Letting them fill in other information that they feel is important to their lives, such as siblings, favorite book etc.
After they finish writing their story they should share their stories, observing whether or not people have similar feelings, or dislikes. You can ask the kids, why those things are important to them, or why something else wasn’t. Also question if what they wrote down tells the story of their life. It is probably better to do this project on the first day and follow up with the questions the next day, that way the kids have time to go home and think and observe about what is important in their life.
Questions for Philosophical Discussion
By Nina Miller
“I am a story. So are you. So is everyone.”
"Just as I am a story and you are a story and countries tell stories about themselves, race is a story, too.''
“There are other ways all of us—even me, even you—think we are better than others.”