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Resources for Understanding and Responding

Posted by Ken Butigan

In light of the events in Ferguson, longtime peace and justice studies professor Barbara Wein and her colleagues — Dave Ragland, Alex Bodkin, and Ivan Boothe — have been compiling resources on racial disparities and the discriminatory nature of the U.S. criminal justice system. These were prepared especially for teaching in the classroom, but all of us can benefit from these studies and analyses. (These lists were sent out via the Peace and Justice Study Association list-serve.)

They are in two batches: I. Teaching resources for an upcoming week of solidarity and action with the people of Ferguson and beyond and II. Barbara Wein’s additional recommendations.

Teaching resources for an upcoming week of solidarity and action with the people of Ferguson and beyond:

“Seven Reasons Police Brutality is Systematic not Anecdotal,” by Bonnie Kristian, The American Conservative magazine, July 02, 2014

“Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop:  It’s not just Ferguson—here’s how the system protects police.” The Nation magazine, November 24, 2014 by Chase Madar

“Will Ferguson be a Moment or a Movement?” by Fredrick Harris, Director of the Center on African American Politics and Society at Columbia University, Washington Post, August 22, 2014

Sociologists for Justice “The Ferguson Syllabus: Sociological Research Puts Ferguson in Context”  1,600 sociologists against police brutality and racism  

“Many of the resources — and equally as important, the frameworks for thinking about creating curriculum — are equally applicable for creating conversations and curriculum around talking about Mike Brown. And we need to talk about Mike Brown.”

“Police brutality is a national crisis, but the underlying structural violence – racism, economic injustice and militarism – is a national epidemic.”

“Handmaiden to structural violence are media perceptions that characterize and stereotype all protestors as violent, even when the vast majority are peacefully working toward productive change.”

“Teaching about Ferguson -In light of the grand jury decision, we share this collection of teaching ideas and resources, originally published in August of 2014.”

“How Will You Teach About Ferguson- As teachers all over the country head back to school, and as we prepare to start offering our own lesson plans again we wonder whether, and how, you will be talking about the shooting of Michael Brown, and the days of protest that followed, with your students.”

“Teaching #Ferguson: Current events in the Classroom”

“The discussions have been amazing, just letting them have a voice,” Rogers said. “We’ve never had to get into stuff so deeply and so quickly. I think they’re feeling very empowered, which is unusual for the beginning of the year.”

This is a space for collecting ideas and resources to help teachers help Boston Public School students to find some way to learn in and about a world where what happened in Ferguson, Missouri this summer can and does happen.

“I revised a lesson I had taught six years prior on the murder of Sean Bell that asked young people to turn their pain into poetry” (

Film entitled  “Murder on Sunday Morning” which shows blatant racial profiling and police brutality and coercion among other things. :

link to full length film on youtube:

“Less discussed but equally troubling is the disproportionate number of African-American children who are long-term suspended or expelled from schools — a practice that frequently pushes African American children toward the criminal justice system — often referred to as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”.

“Prohibiting students from talking about events in Ferguson offers them exactly the opposite of what they need.”

“The shooting, the grand jury’s decision not to indict officer Darren Wilson and the subsequent protests have all led to difficult discussions in many homes and communities, including among teachers and students in schools.”

Teaching about Ferguson through a Justice and Peace Lens

Additional recommendations:

  • Michele Alexander The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, new edition, January 2012
  • Radley Balko. The Rise of the Warrior Cop, 2013
  • Every book by Derrick Bell (because the man is in a class by himself.  May he rest in peace.  See website built by his students to him ):
  • Race, Racism and American Law (6th Edition)
  • Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism in America (1992)
  • And We Are Not Saved: The Elusive Quest for Racial Justice (1987)
  • Shade of Brown: New Perspectives on School Desegregation (1980)
  • Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform (2005)
  • Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth (2002)
  • Afrolantica Legacies (1998)
  • Gospel Choirs: Psalms of Survival in an Alien Land Called Home (1997)
  • Confronting Authority: Reflections of an Ardent Protester (1996)

Daryl Meeks. “Police Militarization in Urban Areas:  The Obscure War Against the Underclass.”  The Black Scholar 35.4 (2006):  33-41 JSTOR.

Peter Kraska B. ” Militarizaton and Policiing – Its Relevance to 21st Century Police.”  Policing 1.4 (2007):  501-13 Oxford Journals

“Fighting Police Abuse:  A Community Action Manual”, Amercian Civil Liberties Union (ACLU (Dec. 1, 1997)

Mothers Against Police Brutality:

Children’s Defense Fund:

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