Workshop Materials

To see the videos used in this workshop, visit these playlists and videos from Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate: Seeking the Self 2011Seeking the Self 2013; Racial Identity Development Playlist.

To find out more about the artists behind Seeking the Self, visit Hidden Voices website:

The documents below are used in my presentation or provide supporting information:

Educational Resources and Research

Cultural Responsiveness, Racial Identity and Academic Success: A Review of Literature by Drs. George Noblit and Mary Stone Hanley
This report from the Heinz Endowment makes the connection between supporting racial identity development, using culturally responsive pedagogy, and creating academic success for students of color. This report also emphasizes the important role the arts play in supporting positive racial identity development.

Code Switching Lessons: Grammar Strategies for Linguistically Diverse Writers by Rebecca Wheeler and Rachel Swords
This book is targeted to be used by teachers in grades 3-6, but the strategies could be used by any educator who is hoping to support students’ code-switching ability and mastery of standard English. (Also, see Code Switching from LearnNC.)

WestEd’s Bridging Cultures Project
This project helped teachers understand individualism and collectivism, then taught them how to collect ethnographies to better understand their students. The site has numerous resources which can help teachers explore the cultures of their own students.

Teaching Tolerance
Head over to the Southern Policy Law Center’s education project. They have tons of great resources for teachers. Check out this search for “Racial Identity Development” or this one for “White Racial Identity Development” to get started. And here’s a great set of K-5 strategies called “Different Colors of Beauty“.

Books and Articles

Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in The Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum
A book written by a psychology and education professor that “provides us with a new framework for thinking and talking about race.” This is also an excellent primer for understanding racial identity development of all students.

We Can’t Teach What We Don’t Know by Gary Howard
Howard gives us a very personal look at the complexities of being a white educator trying to address racial issues.

When Race Becomes Real
edited by Bernestine Singley
This is a collection of first person essays about how each writer realized the important role race played in his or her life. In particular, I recommend the essays by Les Payne (“How I Stopped Being a Negro”) and Robert Jensen (“Black and White”).

The Bi-Racial and Multi-Racial Student Experience by Bonnie Davis
This is the first book every published with a focus on helping educators understand the experiences of their multi-racial students. And it includes stories from about a dozen Chapel HIll teachers and students.

“See Baby Discriminate” from Newsweek. This is an excerpt from Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman’s book NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children. This abridged chapter focuses on racial identity development of children from birth through the early elementary years. You may want to read the full book chapter, which is called “Why White Parents Don’t Talk about Race.”

The Freedom Writer’s Diary by Freedom Writers and Erin Gruwell.
This book is written by high school students about their experiences in English classes taught by Erin Gruwell. She uses transformative, culturally relevant teaching methods to engage the students and help them produce high quality work (like the book itself). This is an engaging and affirming examination of how students see themselves and how they come to see themselves as successful learners. (You might also enjoy the movie version, but the first person narrative in the book makes it way more engaging.) Also, check out the Freedom Writer’s Diary Teacher’s Guide if you want to try some of these practices in your classroom.

A Home on the Field by Paul Cuadros.
Cuadros describes the lessons he learned while coaching an all Latino soccer team at Jordan Matthews High School in Siler City. This book is a great way to understand the experiences of our Latino immigrant students.

The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream by Drs. Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt
This is the autobiographical story of three young black men who decided to stick together until they were all doctors. It’s a great example of positive racial identity development over time.

Elementary School Book List

The staff at McDougle Elementary School created this book list for parents who want to support positive racial identity development at home.

American Born Chinese
This graphic novel explores the racial identity development of an American-born student of Chinese descent. This book is appropriate for students in grades 7 and up, but could also be a powerful piece of professional development for teachers. Try asking teachers to discuss how the book would be different if the character was of another race.

Online Videos

BRMA Seeking The Self Through Art
This is the video version of a multimedia production that 14 middle school students from Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate created about their own evolving racial identities. To read along with a script, download the students’ words here. This piece was produced along with the tremendous arts organization Hidden Voices, and the video was filmed and edited by the youth documentarians of SpiritHouse.

26 Mini-Films for Exploring Race, Bias and Identity with Students
The New York Times compiled this outstanding set of resources.

Racial Identity YouTube Playlist
I’ve created a playlist on YouTube with videos I use in professional development sessions about Racial Identity Development. The first five videos are from a series called “Student Voices” created for the 2002 Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Convocation. The rest of the videos are other YouTube clips which I’m also listing individually below. Every school in CHCCS should have a high quality DVD copy of the Student Voices pieces. I also can provide a handout and training notes to use along with Student Voices in a professional development session.

A Girl Like Me
A high school student explores African-American female body image. She also investigates the early manifestations of racial identity development by replicating Drs. Kenneth and Mamie Clark’s “doll test” from the Brown v. Board arguments. On a related note, check out this Sesame Street video that went viral with a positive message about black women’s hair. And here’s another student-produced video about culturally embedded skin tone racism, Shadeism (warning that this video includes some cursing).

Something Other than Other
This video by two parents explores their newborn child’s multi-racial identity.

Booker T. Washington High grad Deonte Bridges’ Valedictorian speech
Like some of our other resources, it’s pretty easy to read between the lines and see how this young man’s development of a positive racial identity enabled his academic success. His speech starts with the powerful line “I am the dream and the hope of the slave… I rise.”

Tim Wise on White Privilege
Wise is probably our most prominent white person speaking out on issues of racism and white supremacy. This clip is part of a larger speech that Wise gave on white privilege. You can find lots of Wise clips on the net and follow his blog here.

Starting Again: Stories of Refugee Youth
This powerful video about refugee youth in Washington state starts out with a profile of a student from Burma before meeting students from Nepal/Bhutan, Russia, and Somalia. This video is part of a larger project that has provided support to schools who serve refugee youth.

Race Through Our Eye
Chapel Hill High School student Ife Olaitan produced this documentary examination of the tensions implicit in racial identity development. It’s entirely comprised of actual students, and their brutal honesty and evident internal conflict makes this quite a challenging piece to view.

Principal Amanda Hartness shared these clips which she has used with her staff:


Films are great ways to explore how an identity develops. In a workshop we did together, Dionne McLaughlin used excerpts from documentaries called Skin Deep, The Way Home, and Ethnic Notions.

What are your favorite movies that explore racial identity? Send me suggestions of ones I can add to the list below.

The classic film version of Alex Haley’s exploration of his ancestry.

Tortilla Soup
A wonderful, fun exploration of identity within a Mexican-American family.

The Namesake
A powerful story of how a mother and son face different identity development challenges while moving between their ancestral home of India and a new life in the United States.