Learning Plans & Activities
Know the Past to Know the Present: Personal Narratives on Race and Consciousness

Using Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi (Little, Brown 2020) as a mentor text, students will examine their personal experiences with race and racial consciousness as it has developed throughout their lives. They will then create a work of art to represent their understanding of the way race, identity, power, and privilege intersect.


English language arts

Social studies


Ethnic studies




English language arts teacher, art teacher, social Studies teacher


Students will write to explain and inform readers about the connections between race, identity, power, and privilege.

Students will read to study craft and synthesis of ideas into words or another artistic medium.


Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi (Little, Brown 2020)

Access to research databases or materials


Two 60-minute class periods or equivalent


AASL Standards Framework for Learners

I.A.2. Recalling prior and background knowledge as context for new meaning.

I.D.3. Enacting new understanding through real-world connections.

II.A.3. Describing their understanding of cultural relevancy and placement within the global learning community.

II.B.2. Evaluating a variety of perspectives during learning activities.

V.A.2. Reflecting and questioning assumptions and possible misconceptions.

VI.C.2. Disseminating new knowledge through means appropriate for the intended audience.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

Instructional Procedure

Before reading: Read the Introduction and Reader's Notes from Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. Determine authors' purpose and set up a reader's notebook.

During Reading: Use your reader's notebook to make personal connections to words and phrases that stay with you. Take note of pages that look visually different. What is meaningful or emotionally impactful about them? What feelings and or memories do they evoke?

After Reading: Make a timeline of your own personal history with race, racism, and antiracism. Consider the following questions and add your own.

  • When was the first time you realized you (or someone you know) looked different?
  • How did people closest to you or those in your immediate family talk about race and racism?
  • When was the first time you remember feeling the impact of racism or seeing someone treated unjustly due to the color of their skin?


Listen to Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You the audiobook, then journal or speak about and record your thoughts and reactions. Look through the book and annotate the pages with words that are different font size or have different placement on the page. Connect words with emotions and memories using images or text.


Write a personal narrative about the first time you remember becoming conscious about race and racism in your family, community, or society. Focus on showing, rather than telling, the emotional impact this realization had on you.

Read one of the supplementary texts mentioned in the back of the book: All American Boys (Simon & Shuster 2015), Dear Martin (Penguin Random House 2017), The Hate U Give (HarperCollins 2017), Anger is a Gift (Macmillan 2018), The Fire Next Time (Dial Press 1962), Women, Race, and Class (Random House 1981), The Bluest Eye (Holt McDougal 1970). Study characterization, author purpose, intended audience, and the use of language to communicate ideas. Write an additional chapter or your own version of the story including details from your lived experience.

Create an artistic rendition of where you consider yourself to be in the development of understanding antiracism. This could be a poem, a collage, an image of a tree, ax, or other objects that capture the process of overcoming racism and racist patterns of thought and moving toward antiracism.

Additional Resources

Get more ideas for teaching with this book in "Curriculum Connections for Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You." You can also refer to "Signs, Structures, and Systems: Dismantling Racism Inside by Looking Outside" for more lesson ideas.

About the Author

Julia E. Torres is a veteran language arts teacher librarian in Denver, Colorado. Julia facilitates teacher development workshops rooted in the areas of anti-racist education, equity and access in literacy and librarianship, and education as a practice of liberation. Julia also works with students locally and around the country with the goal of empowering them to use literacy to fuel resistance and positive social transformation. She is the current NCTE Secondary Representative-at-large, a 2018-2020 Heinemann Publications Heinemann Fellow and Educator Collaborative Book Ambassador. Connect with Julia on Twitter @juliaerin80

MLA Citation Torres, Julia. "Know the Past to Know the Present: Personal Narratives on Race and Consciousness." School Library Connection, March 2020, schoollibraryconnection.com/Home/Display/2243261?childId=2243263&topicCenterId=1955265.

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Entry ID: 2243263

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