From moviegoers showing up in traditional African garb to Black communities fundraising for private screenings and viewing parties, the release of Black Panther has demonstrated a political consciousness unlike other recent cinematic releases. So when Chicago sixth-grade teacher Tess Raser shared her Wakanda Curriculum on Twitter, it was no surprise that it, too, would be celebrated.
The film, which opened Feb. 16, offers a celebration of Black culture, empowerment, ingenuity and beauty in a fictional African nation unburdened with systemic racism and oppression.
Raser’s two-part curriculum provides a creative opportunity for educators to leverage the film and discuss African colonialism and American racism separate from the Eurocentric history typically taught in American classrooms. Students are given the space to digest heavy topics, such as global anti-Blackness, and learn about the effects of colonialism through the experience of Wakanda, an African country that escaped the emotional, societal, and political trauma of White imperialism.
“After seeing Black Panther, I started to think about how students could analyze the movie as they would with a piece of literature,” Raser said. “It was a good way for them to make connections to their community and to prepare them to be change makers.”
Raser leads a classroom of 30 Black students at the Dulles School of Excellence on the South Side of Chicago, an area that she said is often referred to as “Chicago’s most violent block.”
“There’s just so much that teachers have to deal with,” she says. “I think the response I’ve received really highlights a need that teachers have for meaningful radical curriculum that’s created for Black children.”
Due to high-stakes standardized testing and district pressures to do well on math and reading assessments, many students in Chicago Public Schools receive minimal exposure to social studies, she …read more