Equity & Diversity

16 Resources on Talking to Students About Police Killings and Racism

By Debra Viadero — April 16, 2021 2 min read
A demonstrator holds a sign along a perimeter fence guarded by law enforcement officers during a protest over Sunday's fatal shooting of Daunte Wright during a traffic stop, outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department, on April 14, 2021, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. At right on the fence is an image of George Floyd.

As the trial of Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, comes to a head, teachers may struggle with how to talk about issues of racism and police violence with students.
The discussions can be challenging and uncomfortable, but they are needed. Chauvin faces charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for the killing last May of Floyd, a Black man. A video of Floyd gasping for breath as the former police officer pinned him to the ground with his knee quickly went viral, setting off a protest movement against police brutality and systemic racism across the United States and around the world.
Days after the trial began on March 29, Daunte Wright, 20, was killed by a police officer in the nearby community of Brooklyn Center, Minn., sparking protests there and elsewhere. That officer, Kim Potter, who was said to have mistaken her gun for a Taser weapon, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting death of Wright, who was Black.
Then, on April 15, officials in Chicago released body camera footage of a Chicago police officer fatally shooting 13-year-old Adam Toledo, a 7th grader who lived in Little Village, a predominately Latino neighborhood on the city’s West side.

Attention to issues of racism, race-related violence, and police brutality will likely grow in the days ahead as closing arguments begin in the Chauvin case.

To help educators think about how to discuss these cases and other race-related violence and how to support Black students and other students of color who may be distraught by what they read and see in the media, Education Week has compiled some resources from its archives and elsewhere. Here are a few:

News articles from Education Week writers:

For Black students’ views:

Some opinion essays:

Some classroom resources from national groups:

Maya Riser-Kositsky, Librarian and Data Specialist contributed to this article.

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