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Our History and Future


Students need spaces to name and critique injustice to help them ultimately develop the agency to build a better world .  As long as oppression is present in the world, young people need pedagogy that nurtures criticality - Ghouldy Muhammad


  • This chapter of the anthology is a resource designed to support our Puente educators in facilitating and creating space in our classrooms to hold these difficult and meaningful conversations. 

  • Before you implement these readings, ground yourself in a justice centered mindset, consider creating an equity minded syllabus, and build units driven by justice centered questions where you can weave in current events. 

Key Term / Definition

Hegemony, as defined by Encyclopedia Britannica:

“the dominance of one group over another, often supported by legitimating norms and ideas. The term hegemony is today often used as shorthand to describe the relatively dominant position of a particular set of ideas and their associated tendency to become commonsensical and intuitive, thereby inhibiting the dissemination or even the articulation of alternative ideas. The associated term hegemon is used to identify the actor, group, class, or state that exercises hegemonic power or that is responsible for the dissemination of hegemonic ideas.”

Learning Objectives

These pieces have been selected as a way for students to: 

  • Actively analyze the role of systems of white supremacy in U.S. history and culture, and how it impacts communities today 

  • Understand the role of resistance, mutual empowerment, and community care in sustaining marginalized communities

  • Increase their ability to address, heal, and transform oppression and trauma

  • Engage in transformative justice and vision driven actions

Essential and Guiding Questions

What is white supremacy and how does it function in U.S. and global society?

  • What is hegemony and how does it affect our everyday lives?

  • What does justice and liberation really look like for marginalized communities in the U.S. and abroad?

  • How do we understand the history of the U.S. and how it impacts and connects with today’s relevant issues?

  • How can we center the safety, dignity and belonging of all people? 

  • Whose shoulders do you stand on and what do you stand for?  Who are your honorary ancestors? (The Hill We Climb, Using Your Voice is a Political Choice)

Suggested Activities

  • Foundations: White Supremacy & How it Works [MS, HS, CC]

    1. Assign “Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy” by Andrea Smith to students as homework reading or in-class reading in groups. Ask students to identify the main idea of the article and the main idea of each paragraph.

    2. Discussion Questions:

      • How would you describe “oppression olympics”?

      • What is the relationship between capitalism and slavery?

      • What is the relationship between genocide and colonialism?

      • What is the relationship between Orientalism and war?

      • Why does Andrea Smith argue we cannot disregard the “black/white binary” when organizing against systems of oppression?

      • What other binaries function within the system of white supremacy, according to Smith?

    3. Ask students to interpret and respond to this quote from the article: “Under the old but still potent and dominant model, people of color organizing was based on the notion of organizing around shared victimhood. In this model, however, we see that we are victims of white supremacy, but complicit in it as well.”

    4. As a class, reflect on the concepts of Complicity in systems of oppression and Solidarity of oppressed people in resisting oppression. Consider providing historical examples of Solidarity and Complicity.

  • Foundations: Understanding Dominance and Systemic Oppression (Educator Note: These lesson plans will use the words hegemony, dominance, and oppression interchangeably) 

    1. Hegemony [MS, HS, CC]

      • Define Hegemony using these examples [Video; Definition; Article]

      • Ask students to restate the definition of Hegemony in their own words.

      • Divide students into groups and ask them to come up with 1-3 examples of hegemony in the real world.

      • Group Discussion Questions:

        • What is the relationship between coercion, consent, and hegemony?

        • What is the relationship between the ruling/dominant class and the subordinate class?

        • What is the goal of the ruling class in a hegemonic society?

        • What are some examples of “ruling classes” in our current society? In other words, who has the most power, wealth, or resources in our society?

        • Extra Credit Question: Can you think of any groups of people in our society who have power in some contexts but not in others? (Example: A light-skinned Black person may have more access to power, wealth, or resources than a dark-skinned Black person, but the light-skinned Black person can still be the victim of anti-Blackness)

      • Additional Hegemony Lesson Plan

    2. Resistance [MS, HS, CC]

      • Define Resistance to oppression using these examples

      • Discussion Questions:

        • What is the significance of resisting hegemony?

        • What resources would a group of people need in order to resist hegemony?

        • What are some examples of small acts of resistance?

        • What are some examples of big acts of resistance?

    3. Case Study: Gaspar Yanga, the First Liberator of the Americas (MX)

      • Share this short historical video explaining Yanga’s enslavement in Mexico, his escape to freedom, how he formed a maroon community of Black and Indigenous runaways, and his legacy as a Black freedom fighter.

      • Briefly explain the significance of maroon communities during the period of slavery using this resource.

      • Discussion/Reflection Questions:

        • Who were Gaspar Yanga’s oppressors?

        • What was Yanga resisting and why?

        • How did Yanga seek justice/liberation for himself and his people?

      • Activity: Ask students to tell the story of Gaspar Yanga in another creative format, such as a poem, song lyrics, monologue, illustration, timeline, etc. When sharing their creative stories, discuss the importance of uplifting history that has been hidden or erased.

    4. Case Study: Hernandez v. Texas (1954)

      • Share this documentary (via Apple, Amazon, or Kanopy) with students on how Mexican American lawyers were able to integrate into white schools in Texas by advocating that Mexicans should legally be classified as white people. This occurred several years before Brown v. Board of Education which desegregated schools nationwide for African Americans.

      • Discussion Questions

        • What argument did Gus García make to convince the Supreme Court that Mexicans should be allowed in Anglo schools?

        • Was this argument in solidarity with African Americans? Aka did this argument also advocate for the rights of African Americans? Discuss as a class.

    5. Case Study: Capoeira (small act of resistance) in Brazil

      • Have students read aloud sections of this article on the history of Capoeira. Show students this video so they can see what Capoeira looks like.

      • Teachers should read this brief article on the significance of resistance to slavery before facilitating group discussion on Capoeira.

      • Discussion/Reflection Questions:

        • Why would enslaved Africans feel the need to disguise fighting as dancing?

        • How is Capoeira an act of resistance to slavery?

        • Why might slave owners try to ban Capoeira?

    6. Additional Examples

    7. Final Activity

      • Have students create a visual representation of an example of resistance. Examples include a skit depicting Gaspar Yanga’s maroon community fighting the Spanish, a comic book demonstrating Capoeira moves, and/or a poem or short story about the Texas v. Hernandez case.

  • Contemporary Examples of Oppression 

  1. Racial Discrimination and Red-Lining [HS, CC]

    • Examine red lining in your region. As a model, you can use this PBS Lesson Plan to get started. Modify to suit your regional context. (“Fresno’s Mason-Dixon Line”  and “The Case for Reparations” are additional resources on this topic.)

    • Sample Quick-Write Prompt: How can you compare the redlining described in Fresno to the larger issues across the country? How does this perpetuate white supremacy in our communities? What divisions in demographics do you see in your own city or town? What are its dividing lines? What systems of oppression, political motivations and/or historical circumstances contributed to these lines?

    • Research Essay Prompt:  In Race: The Power of an Illusion, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, sociologist and former President of Spelman College, says: "I think we all have to think about: what can I influence? I don't influence everything, but of the things I do influence, I can think about: how am I making this a more equitable environment? Who's had opportunities in my environment and who hasn't? What can I do about that?" Imagine that you have been invited to speak to policy makers in Washington D.C. on the topic of the racial wealth gap. Develop an argument which argues in favor of one solution to help address the racial wealth gap. A good sequence/organizational pattern for the essay will move from:

      • Description of the problem and background

      • Analysis of 2-3 policy recommendations

      • Argument in favor of one policy recommendation, with clear supporting evidence and analysis.

        • Prepare for this essay by researching policy ideas that you believe can make a difference. Some places to begin include:

  • A “baby bonds” program which would pay for a trust fund for the 4 million new children born in America each year. Children from low-income families would receive more, while those from wealthy families would receive less. 

  • Government-paid reparations to African Americans in any one of the many forms proposed by the scholars and economists we have read.

  • Living Wage laws mandating wages of $15 an hour or more, rather than the current federal minimum wage.

  • Community Development Banks that will make low-cost home loans available to low-income people and for local small businesses. 

  • Scatter public housing throughout the region, especially in the suburbs where new jobs are being created, rather than concentrated in the inner city.

  • Government subsidies to developers for the construction of low-cost homes in depressed communities.

  • Progressive taxation to help close the inequality in U.S. income.

  • Universal basic income to cover the basic cost of living and provide financial security.

  • Others?

  • Civic Engagement [MS, HS, CC]

    1. Fifteen adjustable lesson plans on civic engagement for young people are available in the Issues to Action ebook.



Text Selections


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