I recently wrote about my White teacher who badmouthed civil rights in 1995. She willfully did not want to let go of White supremacy. There are other White people who want to see a better country, but they have so many blind spots related to race.
This led me to think of my fun, new curriculum: Racial Crossfit!
Like the exercise version of Crossfit, Racial Crossfit is not something you take on lightly. You have to prepare and set a goal. The process is painful, difficult and requires a commitment to discomfort that includes someone like a personal trainer/coach (that would be me) pointing out your mistakes, sometimes loudly and in ways that may bring you to tears. But it’s totally worth the pain to get to the anti-racism outcome.
Earlier this summer, I offered some initial introductory activities to Racial Crossfit that were designed to help you “get out of your White comfort zone.”
Now, I’m following up with some new activities and exercises that will help you think critically about tackling your racial blind spots.
Racial Crossfit: Activity 1
Please choose at least one of the items from each category to complete.
- Instead of naming the White abolitionists, let’s talk about the actual slave owners and the economy of slavery. Name at least three slave-owning families in each of the American states where slavery was legal. (1 point per family/10 points possible)
- Are any of those families still around and, if so, do they still have access to the wealth they created off slavery? (10 points possible)
- Name 10 companies that are still in existence today that were active in the slave trade and explain, in detail, how they used the enslaved Africans as currency. (10 points possible)
- What percentage of the American economy was fueled by enslaved African labor? What would have been the wage equivalent for the work of an enslaved African if it had been done by White workers? (10 points possible)
- For White students, please decide if your family would have been a slave owner or a working overseer for the slave owner. Please provide specific proof if your family would have owned slaves, as only one in four White people actually owned slaves, the rest of the White people were working for the slave owners. What was the salary for White people who worked for slave owners? What would that be with inflation today? Compare and contrast that to minimum-wage workers and the income gap in America today. (15 points)
White citizen participation in enslavement of Blacks
- Look at least 10 lynching pictures, including the invitation/celebration cards that White people created for the “event.” Write a narrative from one of the photos from the point of view of the White onlooker who was celebrating—the father, mother, child, church official or other. (5 points)
- In your own words, please describe why White people found excitement and enjoyment in community lynchings. (5 points)
- Rape: Please explain the prevalence of rape by White men of enslaved Black women and the lack of responses by the government. (5 points)
- Write a narrative from the experience of an enslaved Black woman who has to give birth to her rapist’s baby and raise the baby in the house with her enslaved Black husband. (5 points)
Criminal Justice/Laws during Slavery
- Please name 10 things that were done legally to enslaved African-Americans that are now illegal. (10 points)
- Please name 10 things that are done today legally to African-Americans that are similar to slave laws. (10 points)
- Explain the connection between slave patrols and the current police departments in America. (10 points)
Remember, Racial Crossfit is hard work!
However, I look forward to this new, open, honest dialogue about America, its history and evil. Yay to no safe spaces! Be prepared, White students, to be stunned by the stories you were never told. It makes for a great “educational opportunity.”