Resources to Educators to Counter Rash of Racially Charged Incidents

Responding to reports of racially charged incidents following Barack Obama’s election as the first black president, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program is offering teachers a set of strategies to deal with election-related bigotry in the classroom.

The new web resource, “Responding to Obama: America at the Extremes,” will help teachers respond to what is happening inside and outside of the classroom by turning it into a teaching moment about race. It can be found at

“Despite talk of a post-racial America following the election, students have been seeing reports of racially charged incidents in the news and, in some cases, seeing and hearing overtly racist behavior among their peers,” said Jennifer Holladay, director of Teaching Tolerance. “We wanted teachers to have the tools to promote understanding and civil discourse, especially with the inauguration on the horizon.”

“Responding to Obama” was inspired by post-election correspondence from readers of Teaching Tolerance magazine who asked for guidance on how to address these situations in schools.

Although the majority of racial incidents appear from news accounts to have occurred outside of schools, schoolchildren in many areas of the country have been exposed to them. There have been disturbing reports of racial slurs, racist graffiti and even threats on the life of the president-elect. Some schools have reportedly tried to calm tensions by restricting student discussion of the election.

“While the election hasn’t produced a post-racial America, teachers can use the reactions we’ve seen to promote a better understanding of race and tolerance that can bring us closer to that ideal,” Holladay said.

Teaching Tolerance provides 400,000 educators with anti-bias resources, free of charge, each year. It is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats hate, intolerance and discrimination through education, litigation and advocacy.

SOURCE Southern Poverty Law Center