POV

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator : Collect Oral Histories About the Genocide in Guatemala

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In this lesson, students will watch a video clip about a young woman whose father disappeared during the Guatemalan dictatorship in 1984 as part of a systematic genocide. They will then discuss the strengths and limitations of oral histories in telling the story of such a complicated tragedy. Students will also reach out to Guatemalans in their families or community whose lives have been affected by the genocide; document their memories from that time period; and submit these stories to a website that serves as a public record and memorial of the Guatemalan genocide. If students are unable to speak to Guatemalans in their families or community, they can shift the focus of the activity to create audio recordings of stories told by other members of the local community.

Call Her Ganda | Lesson Plan Clips

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The United States has a history of imperialism that was intended to increase military reach, expand U.S. markets, identify and exploit cheap labor and resources and spread American culture and ideals. The policy and ideology of imperialism have led to devastating results for the economies and cultures of colonized nations around the world, including the Philippines. Inherent to a doctrine of imperialism is a suppression of indigenous cultures and, according to historian Kristin Hoganson, author of Fighting for American Manhood: How Gender Politics Provoked the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, a gender-based exercise of power.

In the documentary film Call Her Ganda we see how the legacy of U.S. imperialism persists in the form of ongoing U.S. military presence in the Philippines and legal protections afforded to U.S. military personnel who commit crimes on Filipino soil. Call Her Ganda reveals the injustices and imbalance of power inherent in this legacy and how it leads to violence against the Filipino population in general and, in the case of Jennifer Laude, the historical erasure and degradation of transgender identity and the inability of the Filipino people to fight for their right to punish violent crimes committed against them on their own shores.

In this lesson students will study how the history of the U.S. military presence in the Philippines has an impact on families like the Laudes and how the murder of Jennifer “Ganda” Laude reveals the tragic intersection of imperialism, gender, transphobia and violence.

The War Show | Lesson Plan Clip 3: "Meeting Rabea”

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We see demonstrations and the Assad government creating propaganda to convince Syrians that everything is fine and no one is dissatisfied. We hear about Rabea’s arrest for being a heavy metal musician and how the government fought art with violence.

Dalya's Other Country | Lesson Plan Clips

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Syria has always been at the heart of the post-World War II struggle for the Middle East. Prior to the start of the Arab Spring in 2011, however, it was viewed as one of the more stable countries in the region, with a strong, autocratic and youthful leader in President Bashar Al-Assad. That mask of stability has slipped and today, after seven years of violent conflict that has left hundreds of thousands of Syrians dead, the country is at the nexus of every tension in the region: Iran versus Saudi Arabia, the United States versus Russia and even Islamist extremism’s resistance to secularism. Add the historical legacy of colonialism, as well as complex political systems that encompass tribal allegiances, monarchies, dictatorships and nascent democracies, and the complexity and horror of the ongoing war in Syria demands an examination of the ways in which policy issues play out in the real world.

Among current policy considerations for the countries bordering Syria, and increasingly nations farther afield, including the United States, are the ethics and efficacy of responding to atrocities committed in other countries and the challenge of absorbing millions of refugees. At the same time, nations, globally, are confronting the challenge of getting accurate information in an era of actual and imagined "fake news."

This lesson addresses these combined global and media studies concerns by using clips from Dalya's Other Country to deepen students' media analysis skills. It asks students to grapple with multiple types of news and information sources, including an examination of the ways in which documentary films can humanize statistics, policy statements and news reports.

On Her Shoulders | Nadia Murad in the Public Eye: Analyzing the Moral Responsibility of the Media

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In 2018 Nadia Murad was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside Denis Mukwege, according to the prize committee, “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict.” Four years earlier, Nadia Murad was a young woman living peacefully in her small Yazidi village of Kocho in northwest Iraq. Not only had she never heard of the Nobel Peace Prize, but she could not have imagined that one day she would be an international activist speaking on behalf of her community in front of the United Nations.

This dizzying rise to international attention is as worthy of study and attention as the events that brought Murad to the world stage of humanitarian and human rights work. Today we see Murad as a source of strength and resilience. She is a survivor, even called a hero by many for telling her story of survival again and again on behalf of her Yazidi people. But at what cost does Murad tell her story, and for whose benefit?

In this lesson, students will have the opportunity to consider this question and broaden their media literacy skills by identifying the moral and ethical parameters journalists follow when interacting with and reporting on survivors of genocide. By viewing excerpts of On Her Shoulders—a documentary portrait of Nadia Murad, who survived the 2014 Yazidi genocide—students will evaluate the balance between the media’s desire for survivors to tell their stories, the public’s need for stories of strength and heroism and the survivors’ pursuit of justice for their community.

A Conversation with My Black Son: Understanding the History Behind Modern Racial Profiling

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For generations, parents of black boys across the U.S. have rehearsed, dreaded and postponed “The Conversation,” but as their children become increasingly independent, parents must decide how to tell their black sons that they may be targets of racial profiling by the police. To keep the child they love safe, they may have to tell him that he risks being targeted by the police, simply because of the color of his skin. Is it possible for parents to frame this discussion in a way that both informs and empowers their boys? Can black boys and men rely on the police to “protect and serve” them while also recognizing that the institutional bias of our justice system presents a direct risk to their safety? How has the history of policing in the United States contributed to this need for “The Conversation” today? What lessons can we learn from our past that can inform our actions in the future?

Dark Money | Lesson Plan Clips

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In this lesson, students will examine a case study about how corporate donations to American political campaigns influence elections. Students will use film clips from the documentary Dark Money to learn how donations where the donor is undisclosed are used to finance political campaigns and how investigative journalism revealed the harm of this type of political spending in Montana.

Students will increase their critical media analysis skills, their knowledge of campaign finance and their understanding of why an informed citizenry is necessary to a strong democracy. Students will apply what they learn to an election in their own community and gain a deeper understanding of how campaigns are funded and how money may influence elected representatives in local, state or federal office.

Minding the Gap | Lesson Plan Clips

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Minding the Gap is a coming of age film by Bing Liu. Starting in high school, Bing begins to make skate videos. What starts as a hobby ends up as a profound exploration of issues that is likely to resonate deeply with students.

The diverse group of participants in the film — Bing, Keire, Zack, and Nina — see and feel the often jarring challenges of life in a small, declining Rust Belt city. Collectively, they experience family violence, substance abuse, economic insecurity, racism, and teen pregnancy, along with the typical struggles of identity formation as teens become adults. To cope, they skate — regulating the speed at which they move through life, attacking obstacles and flipping over platforms, sometimes unsuccessfully. The risks they take are sometimes rewarded and sometimes the source of pain. But they persevere.

My Country, My Country: To Vote or Not to Vote

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My Country, My Country is an unforgettable journey into the heart of war-ravaged Iraq in the months leading up to the January 2005 elections. Symbolized by fingers marked with purple ink, the 2005 elections posed challenges to all sides of the debate about the war. This lesson plan

Raising Bertie | Lesson Plan Clips

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I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all.

- James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (1955)

In the midst of the Great Depression in 1931, historian James Truslow Adams defined the American dream as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone.”  For decades it appeared that many in the United States had access to that dream through federal economic development programs like the G.I. Bill (1944), which offered thousands of returning veterans grants for school and college, low-interest mortgage and small-business loans, job training opportunities and unemployment payments. In fact, studies have shown that from 1940 onwards, “a child born into the average American household had a 92 percent chance of making more money than his or her parents.”  

Yet this upward economic growth did not touch all communities nor benefit all racial groups. And while James Baldwin’s declaration of individual complexity rings true, many communities continue to face deep inequities, particularly African-American youth coming of age in rural areas. 

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