Handling the Hot Topic of Nooses and Lanterns at UD
Our campus made the headlines when nooses were found hanging in trees on September 22nd, 2015. While they turned out to be remnants of lanterns hanged in the trees earlier in the year, the reaction of the University, as well as reactions on social media, have stirred many conversations within the community. This is an important learning opportunity for students to understand the significance of the incident and why UD decided to have a discussion about it. There are many ways to approach this issue depending on your discipline. Below are resources to help you breach this difficult topic. Some are examples used by UD faculty, others are more general resources.
I made space for discussion in class, and it ended up consuming the whole period. I know that it is important for students not only to be exposed to new ideas and perspectives but also to feel empowered through these discussions; so we made sure to focus on steps they could reasonably take, both large and small, here at UD and in the future in their secondary English classrooms. – Jill Flynn, Associate Professor of English
The bulk of my race, rhetoric, and professional writing class was open forum style; it was powerful, enlightening, and engaging as students recalled racial injustices that they had seen, heard, or been the subject of on campus and in life. I shared the attached piece [chronology of rights below] to further contextualize the conversation on slavery/segregation/mass incarceration and systemic problems as a result of nation building; we also talked through how companies respond and how they should/could respond to incidents like these (so we analyzed some of the notes sent out by President Targett and talked through timing, information/lack thereof, and language choices). – Jessica Edwards, Assistant Professor of English
President Targett is directing people to National Agenda events for dialogue, and I hope you will do the same. Netta Elzie and DeRay Mckesson (of Black Lives Matter) will be here one week from today. On the National Agenda site, I’ve begun a “Resources” page: http://sites.udel.edu/casnationalagenda/resources/. It needs more, and it is growing. For example, I plan to include the Equal Justice Initiative’s (Bryan Stevenson) History of Lynchings report:
http://www.eji.org/lynchinginamerica. – Lindsay Hoffman, Associate Professor of Communication and Political Science & International Relations
And a letter to students:
I woke this morning to awful news of what looked like a hate crime on campus last night. I’m not sure how much you know of the history of lynching in the US, but please be aware that nooses are symbols of racial violence and terror. In reaction to the appearance of what appeared to be 3 nooses and some rather racists comments on social media, there will be confusion, anger, frustration, relief and grief expressed in the coming days.
We’ve learned that these were remnants of lanterns. However, the appearance of hatred – followed by malice and ignorance on social media – has seemed to rupture a fairly fragile veneer of tolerance and safety at UD.
I suggest you spend some time today listening and observing how our community reacts, learning about why this is a significant moment, reaching out to your friends who may need allies and support, and asking others to do the same. You also might consider how you might handle this kind of news if you were teaching at nearby Newark High School, realizing that teaching and learning is disrupted. How do you comfort frightened students? Help confused students learn more? Reach out to parents? – Cheryl Richardson, Associate Director of the Center for Teaching & Assessment of Learning and Adjunct Professor of Education
- Collette Gaiter, Associate Professor of Arts & Design, created a powerful Power Point covering the history of the “noose” in the US, and how it was applied to the noose and lanterns incidents at UD. (Trigger warning, some images portray graphic deaths)
- A reminder of the chronology of rights for African-Americans in the US from Jessica Edwards, Assistant Professor of English.
- Thoughts from a student, Heather Brody
- It is a good opportunity to visit the NCTE statement on #BlackLivesMatter and its commitment to integrate discussions on race and inequalities in the classroom.
- This incident also happens at a time of debate and distress over police killings and its disproportionate impact on the African-American community. The Guardian has a permanent feature keeping track of every individual killed by the police this year. To the point, two days after the “nooses” were found, an investigation started on the killing by the Wilmington Police of an unarmed African-American man in a wheelchair.
- You can find more tools to discuss diversity in your classrooms on the CTAL website.
- The University of Oregon also offers great additional resources and tools for your classroom.
Gathering at UD on Wednesday 23rd, 2015 for a dialog on the events of the previous day. See more details on UDaily.