Immigration is a frequent topic here at Vamos a Leer, as well as on the news. On Friday, January 27th, President Trump signed an executive order to help “protect Americans from ‘terrorist’ attacks.” This order suspended immigration from several Muslim-majority countries, and indefinitely banned Syrians (including refugees) from entering the United States. He has also announced his plans to carry out his campaign promise of building a wall on the United States/Mexico border.
Teaching Tolerance has put together some sources to support teachers in talking about current events, and write that “schools with immigrant, undocumented and refugee students are likely to see heightened anxieties and fears among students due to two executive orders:
1) a directive to start immediate construction on a border wall with Mexico and
2) a 90-day ban on citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, and a 120-day suspension on refugee admissions into the United States (indefinitely for Syrian refugees).”
It is crucial to recognize that many students are living in fear for themselves, families and/or friends. Addressing these concerns is of utmost importance in creating a safe and welcoming learning environment for students. While some of the resources we’re sharing here are not explicitly connected to Latin America, we’re posting them because we are committed to social justice for all students. We believe in fostering an authentic community where all our students feel safe and valued.
Understanding each other – and valuing both our similarities and differences – is a first step in this process. At Vamos a Leer we strongly believe that books and stories can play a role in this process.
Below are a couple of resources you may find useful in building community in your classroom through stories.
- Join author Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich in reading books that speak to the refugee experience. Her recent article Books to Help Kids Understand What It’s Like to Be a Refugee provides a list of books, lesson plans and other resources to get you started.
- Take a look at KitaabWorld’s curated book lists, articles, reports and other resources to help counter Islamophobia through stories.
- Check out PragmaticMom’s post How To: Teach Your Children About Islam (and tolerance in the process!) for further resources about celebrating, learning and teaching about the Arab world, Islam and the Middle East.
- Teaching Tolerance’s recent article, “What do I say to Students” provides some thoughts on talking with both students and colleagues and provides some external resources to take action to combat Islamophobia in your classroom or school:
Use these resources to offer facts and perspectives that can help correct misinformation, improve school safety and offer examples of how students across the country have responded in the face of Islamophobia.
- Expelling Islamophobia
A magazine feature story that explains why anti-hate and anti-bullying policies aren’t enough in the fight against Islamophobia in schools.
- What Is the Truth About American Muslims?
A publication co-produced by the Interfaith Alliance and the Religious Freedom Project of the First Amendment Center that debunks damaging stereotypes about Muslims in the United States. It also includes a section on religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution.
- Extreme Prejudice
A magazine feature story about why it’s necessary to teach about religious radicalism. The story has an accompanying lesson-based toolkit.
- Dressing in Solidarity
A magazine feature story about a school that rallied around its Muslim students after an anti-Muslim hate crime.
- Youth United! Enough Is Enough
A video feature about a school that lost a student to an anti-Muslim hate crime and how, after the tragedy, his classmates took action to establish a community-wide culture of respect, love and understanding. (Great for sharing with kids!)
- Religious Diversity in the Classroom: Fostering a Culture of Respect
A webinar co-produced by TT and the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding about how to make your classroom a safe learning space for students of all religious and nonreligious beliefs.
- Debunking Stereotypes About Muslims and Islam
A classroom lesson in which students learn about Muslims in the United States and explore how religions are similar and
- Confronting Students’ Islamophobia
A blog post about a teacher’s reaction when her students resisted meeting a Muslim children’s book author.
- Don’t Look Away From Garissa
A blog post about an Islamic extremist attack on a Kenyan university and the implications for students and teachers in the United States when only the negative stories about Islam make it into the news.
I hope that these resources can support your efforts of resistance to the single stories that will continue to circulate the media and our nation in the coming months.