What is race? Students learn about the role of race as an important part of social identity before examining race as a social and political construct influenced and reinforced by bias and structural racism. Our current scientific understanding of the biological basis of human genetic variation demonstrates that there are no biological features that are present in all members of one "race" group and not in others. While race is not a genetically meaningful category, it can still impact biology through the enactment of racist policies and practices - which result in inequities in areas such as healthcare.
8 Lesson plans
Adapted for Remote Learning
Elliott Gimble, Science Teacher, Lexington High School, MA
Use a Driving Question Board to generate questions related to the idea of race. Explore elements of avowed and ascribed identities (including race and ancestry) and how these identities can influence one’s experiences.
Explore the three levels of racism (structural/systemic, personally mediated, and internalized), and how cognitive shortcuts our brains make are influenced by each to create implicit bias.
Understand the impact of some scientists in creating and furthering the idea of race and racial hierarchies to justify oppression, exploitation, and genocide. More recently, scientists studying human variation have provided evidence for why race is not inherently a biologically meaningful category.
Investigate whether race and ancestry are related examining the fluid nature of race categories relative to a person’s ancestry. Learn about migration and mixing over human history. Study the US Census categories to observe the changes in racial ideas over time.
Explore the impact of geography, history, and evolutionary factors on human genetic variation and whether race makes a good proxy for ancestry when describing human groups.
Explore whether genetics or genes can be a good tool to distinguish one “race” group from another. Learn that there is more variation within, than between, conventional race groups.
Is race really a risk factor for certain diseases? Explore what it means when one group of people is at higher risk than others.
Reflect on the lessons and apply those to an education campaign to promote deeper understandings about race and take action for justice.