Understanding Cross-Cultural Identity through Exploring the

Understanding Cross-Cultural
Identity through Exploring the
African-American Journey
Stacie Miller, Associate Professor &
ESOL Coordinator, CCBC
Michael Walsh, Associate Professor &
Communication Studies
Coordinator, CCBC
Culturally Responsive Instruction (CRI)
To develop faculty understanding of the
nature of race and culture, including
expressions of race and culture of the
students with whom they work.
To positively affect faculty’s interaction with
students by training faculty to manage
racial and cultural elements of classroom
To improve student success by developing
faculty’s ability to respond to cultural and
racial needs and expectations of students
But That’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy—Ladson-Billings
Culturally relevant pedagogy rests on three
criteria or propositions:
Students must experience academic success
Students must develop and/or maintain cultural
Students must develop a critical consciousness
through which they challenge the status quo of
the current social order
Ladson-Billings continued…
1) Academic success
“ The trick of culturally relevant teaching is to get
students to ‘choose’ academic success.”
2) Cultural competence
“Culturally relevant teachers utilize students’
culture as a vehicle for learning.”
3) Critical consciousness
“If school is about preparing students for active
citizenship, what better citizenship tool than
the ability to critically analyze the society?”
What the assignment accomplishes
1. Scaffolding of skills – common themes
presented in these readings provide a
continuity that allows students to build on
ideas and skills covered in previous
What the assignment accomplishes
2. Weaving literature and personal
experience – encourages higher level
thinking skills such as comparison and
contrast, and analysis and problem solving.
What the assignment accomplishes
3. Learning vocabulary through
literature – students learn terms that
are embedded in a rich context that
provides information about nuances in
meaning, use, and social register.
The Literature
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
“Wouldn’t they be surprised when one day
I woke out of my black ugly dream, and
my real hair, which was long and blond,
would take the place of the kinky mass
the Momma wouldn’t let me straighten?
My light blue eyes were going to
hypnotize them, after all the things they
said about ‘my daddy must have been a
Chinaman’ because my eyes were so small
and squinty.” – Maya Angelou
Kaffir Boy
“And the more I read black literature in the
year 1982-1983 and became familiar with
the history of black life in America, the
deeper my identification with their suffering
and experiences became. I began to see
that, in a way, their struggle was harder, more
baffling, more frustrating, because they lived
in a society where they were told daily that
everyone is free and equal, that the
American dream is within grasp of everyone
who tries.” – Mark Mathabane
How it Feels to Be Colored Me
“Among the thousand white persons, I am a
dark rock surged upon, and overswept,
but through it all, I remain myself.”
“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but
it does not make me angry. It merely
astonishes me. How can any deny
themselves the pleasure of my company?
It’s beyond me”
– Zora Neale Hurston
Lesson Objectives
1) Through their readings, students will
discover different perceptions of identity.
Students will have the opportunity to
analyze, synthesize, and apply the
information to their own life experience.
Lesson Objectives
2) Students will gain exposure to African
American voices, increase their
understanding of the African American
experience, and relate it to their own
Lesson Objectives
3) This lesson will give students the
opportunity to embark on a journey of self-
exploration by encouraging them to define
meaningfully their own identity, learn how
identity can be shaped by our personal
experiences, and compare these experiences
to those of the African American writers.
Students will discuss the concept of
identity as a class.
2) Teacher will prompt discussion with
questions such as: What is identity? What
influences or shapes identity? How would
you have described your own identity in
your home country? Has this changed since
you arrived in the United States? If yes,
how? Have you observed any type of
identity necessary for success?
3) Teacher will conduct a pre-reading
discussion of the writers students will be
exposed to and will also provide a brief
outline of African American history.
(www.enchantedlearning.com). New
vocabulary will also be discussed as
4) For homework, students will read
excerpts from Maya Angelou's I Know Why
the Caged Bird Sings, Mark Mathabane's
Kaffir Boy in America, and Zora Neale
Hurston's essay How it Feels to Be Colored
Me. Students will also be asked to bring in
a bag of any kind for class activity.
5) Students will discuss each of the readings.
Possible approaches could be
comparing/contrasting Angelou and Hurston
excerpts, underlining and sharing meaningful
sentences, and discussing similarities and
differences between the “ghetto”
experiences in the United States and South
Africa. A graphic organizer could be used to
help frame the discussion and prepare
students for the at-home assessment.
6) Teacher will synthesize feedback on the
board as a visual technique for sharing
ideas on Angelou, Mathabane, Hurston,
and Me.
7) Discussion prompt: Which of the
writers do you identify with the most?
8) Discussion prompt: What are some
obstacles that can hold people back?
Teacher elicits responses and writes them
on board. Students do a freewrite on
possible obstacles in their own lives and
how to overcome them.
9) Bag Activity: Re-read Hurston paragraph
on the brown bag of miscellany.
10) Teacher demonstrates activity.
11) Teacher will distribute index cards and
ask students to write words/phrases that
describe their identity and place them in
the bag.
12) Students will share their bags with the
class/small groups.
13) Teacher will make connection between
Hurston excerpt and the results from the
For homework, students write a short
paper where they answer the following
questions: Which reading can you relate
to the most? What have you learned
about how your identity has been shaped?
Has living in another country changed
your identity? If yes, how?
 Read
Newsweek article, “An Immigrant’s
Silent Struggle”
 Watch youtube clips depicting different
stages of African American history (Roots,
The Color Purple, and The Pursuit of
 Play Cultural Connections
 Maya Angelou reading “Still I Rise” and
“Phenomenal Woman” on youtube.com
 Use enchantedlearning.com for African
American history timeline
Works Cited
Angelou, Maya. I Know Why the Caged Bird
Sings. New York: Random House, 1969.
Hurston, Zora Neale. “How It Feels to Be
Colored Me.”
Ladson-Billings, Gloria. “But That’s Just Good
Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant
Pedagogy.” Theory into Practice 34.3 (1995):
Mathabane, Mark. Kaffir Boy in America. New
York: New Millennium, 1998.

similar documents