November 23, 2020
This month's blog post is part of a series on pedagogy and community-engaged learning.
Since the project began in 2016, Mapping Prejudice has brought our research into hundreds of spaces through presentation, volunteer sessions, and workshops. From the beginning, educators have asked for resources to bring Mapping Prejudice into the classroom. For the past two and a half years I have worked with dozens of teachers to find engaging ways to bring our work to students. In our last blog post, I discussed some of the lessons I have learned through using a co-creative praxis in the classroom. This month I will share details about how to access and use the educator resources that we’ve developed.
In the past two years, we have created resources for educators looking to bring our research into the classroom with context and nuance. The first is our Educator’s Guide. This helpful resource provides a wealth of information about the history of racial covenants as well as many additional resources for teaching about structural racism in the classroom. Created at the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdown, our educator guide pays attention to supporting educators who are navigating digital learning environments. However, it serves in-person learning as well. The guide is divided into 5 primary sections:
Section 1: provides an overview. It includes links to a TEDx talk on racial covenants and articles that illuminate the deep roots of contemporary racial inequity.
Section 2: highlights Emmy-award Winning documentary Jim Crow of the North. The film is a powerful look at the history of racial discrimination in housing in the Twin Cities, and features the work of Mapping Prejudice. Our Educator’s Guide provides helpful framing questions and reflection prompts for teachers to make the film an engaging addition to coursework. For further ideas on how to effectively bring the film into the classroom educator’s should check out the resources on PBS’s Learning Media site.
Section 3: explores how to bring the work of transcribing racial covenants into a classroom setting.
Section 4: connects covenants to the present, illuminating their contemporary legacies. It provides resources for teaching related subjects like redlining, urban renewal, and the devastating history of infrastructural projects on communities of color.
Section 5: locates the history of covenants in place and lived experience through a deep dive into an infamous locus of Black resistance and white violence in Minneapolis: the Lee family home. In this portion of the guide, we offer resources for taking a virtual tour of the neighborhood where the Lee family established a home and found themselves under siege by a white mob. This dark moment in Minneapolis history shows students how racist ideology incited violence that has left deep scars on the people and landscape of this city.
In addition to the Educator’s Guide, we also created a resource that supports teachers in bringing Mapping Prejudice and spatial thinking into the classroom. This lesson emphasizes the potential of Mapping Prejudice to develop students spatial analysis skills through locating systems in place. Students learn the value of spatial thinking in understanding social phenomena, and develop critical thinking skills by comparing spatial variables location and pattern to one another to determine their relationship. This lesson also underscores the continued significance of historical practices like racially restrictive covenants by demonstrating their spatial correlation to geographic patterns of inequality today.
The spatial thinking lesson is part of a growing collection of lessons related to our research. Mapping Prejudice is interested in working with educators who have ideas for lessons to include in this accordion resource. Please reach out if you are interested in participating the creation of a lesson for this collaborative curriculum book (you can send inquires through our contact form).
One of the most important revelations to come out of our community volunteer sessions, is the impact of reading and transcribing covenants. We have heard from countless volunteers that the process of contributing to our project illuminates the reality of structural racism in a way that they had never previously experienced. We think it’s critical for students to have this experience as well. Working with K-12 and university educators provided insights about how to do this effectively with students of many ages, backgrounds, and grade levels. So, we developed resources for replicating the transcription process according to different classroom contexts:
For younger students and classrooms without easy technology access:
Our analog deed reading exercise was designed for K-12 classrooms. It takes the activity of reading and transcribing deeds with racial covenants that volunteers do on zooniverse, and makes it concrete with paper documents. This google folder contains publicly accessible worksheet versions of racially covenanted deeds. Each deed is color coded to guide students through the process of extracting data from a deed document. When completing the exercise students are asked to find, read, transcribe, and summarize the meaning of the racially restrictive clause contained within the document. The worksheets are a sample of the varying language found in Hennepin County deed restrictions. When I use these worksheets in classrooms I often split students in groups, each with a different deed to read. Once all the groups have separately completed the finding exercise, we come together as a class to report on what was found. At this point I ask students to consider the difference in the language they encountered. I ask them to report back on what language they found surrounding the racial restriction. This exercise inevitably leads to a lot of discussion. The paper format works well for younger students and students at varying reading levels because it is conducive to group work and teacher support. For older students I use our digital version.
For older students and classrooms with good technology support:
Our training dataset and live volunteer workflows are great ways to bring deed transcription into the classroom with older students. The training dataset on Zooniverse is a digital adaptation of the analog activity. Like the paper deeds, this resource contains a collection of deeds that represent the language commonly found in Hennepin County racial covenants. The training dataset does not feed into a live database of covenants, rather it is an educational collection that allows students to experience the educational power of reading and transcribing covenants without concerns about data quality. Students who are interested can then move on to one of our live workflows on zooniverse when they are ready.
For educators with GIS or database knowledge interested in doing more in depth analysis with students, we recently made our completed Hennepin County dataset available online. The data is available in shapefile or CSV format. This is a particularly valuable resource for teachers interested in designing social justice data projects for students.
Additionally, Mapping Prejudice published a suite of static maps that we hope educators will use. These maps visualize the segregative impact of covenants between 1910-1940, the relationship of segregated neighborhoods to freeway construction, the relationship of racially restrictive covenants and contemporary neighborhoods of color, and the overall extent and pattern of racial covenants in Hennepin County. These maps are available in high resolution pdf downloads for easy use in classroom materials.
For educators interested in taking their lessons from the structural to the personal, Mapping Prejudice has a number of resources that dive deeply into the personal stories and micro geographies of oppression and resistance created by covenants. This list also includes resources for teachers interested in adding context to their lessons around current events and related structural inequities:
The MPLS Uprising - in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, Mapping Prejudice worked to consider what our work meant to a city that was bursting with folks confronting structural racism in all its forms. This page is a resource list of publications where the link between historical housing segregation and contemporary racialized police brutality.
Displaced - a deep map tracing the long history of displacement in southwest Minneapolis from the indegenous removal in the 19th-century to the displacement of an emerging Black community in the early 20th-century.
Exodus - an award winning deep deep map exploring the complex history of the Black and Jewish communities in Minneapolis’ Northside. The map investigates the material implications of mobility.
Blog Posts - our website’s blog section is brimin with deep dives into some of the most fascinating and little known histories related to covenants in the Twin Cities. Educators interested in showing students the power of local and public history are sure to find great resources here (check out posts titled “Notes From the Archives”).
A Public History of 35W - Co-led by Greg Donofrio and Denise Pike, this groundbreaking history of 35W illuminates the extent that discriminatory police were embedded into the pavement of the city. Educators should find a wealth of information to share with students on their website.
We are consistently amazed and humbled by the educators that use our work in the classroom. Witnessing the creativity and brilliance of teachers is one of the most rewarding aspects of this work for me. Please reach out to our team to share any stories or experiences you have using Mapping Prejudice in the classroom, or if you have questions about the resources here.