Podcasts are an increasingly popular classroom tool. Students are listening to the wide variety of content online and creating their own podcasts. Educators find that listening to podcasts allows students to slow down and build their storytelling and writing skills. Using podcasts in the classroom can help fine tune listening skills and strengthen vocabulary.
While I have been using a few different podcasts in the classroom, The Loving Project struck a chord with my students. They wanted to listen to more than the assigned episodes and they quickly connected the couples’ stories to the content we were studying in class.
A study guide for a podcast is like a study guide for a text book. It helps educators get the most out of using the material, supports mandated standards, and shares resources for extended learning. This study guide could be used in traditional classrooms but also in diversity, equity and inclusion trainings with religious groups, non-profit organizations, book clubs, companies, student groups, etc.
The Loving Project Study Guide is an accompaniment to the podcast of interviews with interracial couples living in Greater Philadelphia. It includes discussion questions for every episode, lesson plans, and resources for teaching about multicultural and multiracial families; racism, colorism and xenophobia; identity awareness, intersectionality, and heritage.
These activities promote critical and creative thinking, communicating, flexibility, and social skills such as emotional intelligence. The lesson plans support English language arts, social studies, history, civics and government, and conform to the Pennsylvania Core Standards and School District of Philadelphia curricula.
Many students can’t fathom a time when interracial couples couldn’t get married, while other students will quickly point out that current laws in the U.S. still keep racial groups divided. These activities will encourage students to think deeply about matters that affect themselves, their fellow students, and their own families.
The study guide has activities and resources for children and adults. Most of the episodes are more appropriate for grades 5 and up. The study guide has four sections-
- Discussion Questions for Episodes 1-26 (pages 2-16)
- Discussion Questions for Younger Learners (page 17)
- Lesson Plans for grades 1-12 (pages 18-38)
- More Resources- links to online lesson plans, articles, books, films, dating resources, organizations, etc. (pages 39-44)
Throughout the study guide you will notice the capitalization of “Black.” While the New York Times and Associated Press use lowercase for both, the Chicago Manual Style states that it is the author’s preference whether to capitalize or use lowercase. “Black” in this study guide, refers to the people of the African diaspora. Lori Tharps, featured with her husband Manuel in episode 10, is an author and associate professor of journalism at Temple University. She wrote this op-ed on why Black should be spelled with a capital B: https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/19/opinion/the-case-for-black-with-a-capital-b.html
The Loving Project Study Guide was created by a research team of students and educators from Penn State Abington, the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice, and the Global Philadelphia Association. Our research was supported by the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice, Penn State Abington’s Center for Intercultural Leadership and Communication, and a Seeding Change grant from Penn State Center Philadelphia. Seeding Change grants support student engagement in the city in research that addresses inequities and injustice and amplifies the voice of urban populations.
Anastasia Shown, Project Lead
Amber Lahay, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice
Lauren Holmboe, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice
Katherine Martinez, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice
Brie Starks, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice
Decontee Davis, University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice
Angela Gerstle, Penn State Abington
Trinity Golden, Penn State Abington
Sarah Sharp, Global Philadelphia Association
Discussion Questions for Episodes 1-26
Episode 1: Liz and Chavis
Liz is white, Chavis is Black. Married since 2003.
Themes: family acceptance, colorism, identity awareness, parenting
- Liz and Chavis talk about traveling abroad and seeking out opportunities to interact with the community and learn from local people. Do you think you can do this even inside your own country, city or neighborhood with people of a different race or culture than your own? What successes or conflicts could arise from these interactions?
- Chavis discusses his decision to disclose his race early in a conversation to “protect himself emotionally” and prevent conversations from going down the wrong path. Are there parts of your identity that you actively choose to share when interacting with new people? How does it feel to do this? Have you ever misidentified someone? How did that make you feel?
- Chavis discusses how he is cognizant of how diverse a room is when he enters. Is this something you think about when you are in classes, at events, or social gatherings? What may make people more or less aware of diversity in a space?
- Why do you think Chavis’ parents were concerned about Liz? Consider how some women changed their minds when realizing Chavis’ Black identity. Why do you think they changed their minds? Consider the struggles and challenges associated with dating a person of a different race.
- Consider the significance of Chavis’ “credentials” that contributed to Liz’s parents’ acceptance of him. Do you think people of color are expected to behave and speak in certain ways to receive approval? Explore the phrase: “You must be twice as good to get half as much.”
Episode 2: Olivia and John
John is white, Olivia is Filipina. Married since 2015.
Themes: immigrant experience, identity awareness, family expectations, double consciousness
- Olivia talks about gender roles growing up in her immigrant community. What were some of the gender norms/roles in your community/household when you were growing up? When did you notice different gender norms/roles among other families, friends, or communities?
- Olivia considers how their relationship would be perceived if the roles were reversed and John was Filipino and she was white. How are the social dynamics and stereotypes different when the woman or man is a person of color and the other is white?
- Olivia and John talk about choosing to live in a certain area of the city because it is accepting of multiracial families/children. Did your own parents make any strategic decisions in choosing where you live because of their/your race or ethnicity? Have you ever talked to your parents about this? What challenges do you think John and Olivia may face in having a child that does not “look” like them?
- Olivia was 1 of 3 Filipino students at her school. She felt the need to adapt to her environment in order to fit in. She said, “I am always aware of my race and how I conduct myself.” When and where have you had to adapt to your environment to “fit in more”? When Olivia questions her “fit” into an all-American family, what do you think she means?
- Olivia spoke about the sadness in her mother’s heart because neither of her daughters married a Filipino. How do family expectations influence decision making with your relationships? Is it easy for you to defy family expectations?
Episode 3: Arun and Carrie
Carrie is white, Arun is Indian. Married since 2001.
Themes: family/community/cultural expectations, parenting, family heritage, generational shifts, stereotypes
- Carrie and Arun talk about feeling like their relationship is accepted in the community they live in Northwest Philadelphia. Do you think interracial relationships are accepted in your community? Have you traveled to a place where you think interracial relationships are more or less accepted? What indicates acceptance or rejection?
- Arun talks about how his marriage to Carrie changed what was “normal” in his own community; and how he began to see others in his community begin to date and marry outside of the Indian community. Arun defied the tradition of an arranged marriage, but said families have felt very wronged when their child married outside of their race/ethnicity. How can who you date or marry be seen as social activism? Social change? What are some examples in your culture or family of shameful actions that earn disapproval from family or larger society?
- Arun and Carrie talk about the absence of prejudice when small children play together, but it becomes more apparent in high school due to the influence of parents. What did you learn about racism and prejudice growing up from your parents? Did what they taught you match how they lived in your community? How do your parents influence your decisions on who you date or marry? Why do you think it was so difficult for Arun’s parents to accept his relationship with Carrie?
- Arun and Carrie talk about their past shared experiences. When people of different races have shared experiences, does this have an impact on race relations?
- Arun says, “things of race are defined in black and white.” What do you think Arun means by this? How do you think the labels ascribed to Arun impacted his understanding of who he is?
- We often hear the term “open-minded” in this episode, what does this mean to you?
Episode 4: Courtney and Dave
Courtney is Black, Dave is white. Married since 2010.
Themes: parenting, identity awareness, Black Lives Matter, racial stereotypes, white privilege,
- When they are out as a couple, Dave says he is less aware of people looking at them than Courtney is. Courtney says this is because, as a woman of color, she has spent her whole life being aware of her identity in the world. Do you think about your racial identity every day? Multiple times a day? Only in certain spaces?
- Courtney feels she didn’t fit into stereotypes of a typical Black girl. What are the stereotypes associated with your race(s)? Have you ever felt like you don’t fit stereotypical expectations? How so?
- Courtney and Dave hope that their biracial son will grow up in an accepting generation. Courtney hopes he will not be constantly asked, “What are you?” Have you ever asked someone, “What are you?” How did they respond to you? Has someone ever asked you, “What are you”? How did this make you feel? What are the implications of people commenting on their sons “beautiful” physical appearance?
- Dave shares an experience he had in junior high school when his teacher asked the class whose parents would be okay with them bringing home someone from a different race. He was the only one in his whole class that said his parents would be okay with it. This is when he first took notice of racial issues. Can you recall the first time that you took notice of racism/racial issues? How have Courtney and Dave’s upbringing shaped their open-mindedness about dating outside their race?
- After hearing the interaction with Courtney and Dave at the gas station, what assumptions may arise when people notice their interracial relationship?
Episode 5: Shaina and Brahim
Shaina is white and Jewish, Brahim is Moroccan, Black, and Muslim. Married since 2009.
Themes: parenting, faith traditions/beliefs, immigrant experience, travel, current political climate
- Both Shaina and Brahim say they identify culturally and spiritually with their respective religions, but not so much religiously. What does that mean to you? Give an example of how this plays out.
- Brahim talks about the way the media portrays Muslim people and Islam. What was the last story you read/watched/heard about a Muslim person/Muslim people? Do you think the story was pro-Islam, anti-Islam, or just reporting facts? Have you witnessed or experienced Islamophobia?
- Shaina and Brahim plan to visit Morocco often so their child is immersed in Moroccan culture and knows his extended family. How important/influential is cultural immersion to identity formation? What are the pros/cons of early exposure to travel and language immersion?
- How do the differences between Brahim and Shaina’s cultures and religions impact their relationship?
- Shaina talks about the process of unlearning harmful things she was taught in her religious upbringing. What have you had to unlearn from your upbringing?
Episode 6: Beth and Helaina
Beth is white, Helaina is Black. Married since 2007.
Themes: LGBTQ, parenting, intersectionality, race conversations
- What reactions concerned Helaina when she told her parents about her relationship with Beth?
- Why was it difficult for them to find a Black male donor willing to terminate his parental rights?
- Intersectionality is the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination (such as racism, heterosexim, sexism, and classism) combine, overlap, or intersect. Discuss the social challenges and opportunities of interracial and LGBTQ couples.
- Beth says they have books at home with diverse characters of all different shades. Reflecting on the books you read growing up, how diverse where the characters? Did the characters look like you? How did this make you feel? How important is it that children grow up with images and characters that they can identify with?
- Helaina and Beth talk about getting their children more comfortable talking about having two moms more than having an interracial family. Why do you think this is important to them?
- Helaina and Beth talked about having conversations with their young kids about the harsh realities of racism. They felt it was important to toughen them to these realities, but they also felt like they were stealing their innocence. Even though the children are mixed race, society will see them as Black and that comes with assumptions and survival techniques (no guns rule). Do you think these conversations are necessary for children of color and/or white children? When do you think parents should first talk to their children about race and racism?
Episode 7: Craig and Donna
Craig is white, Donna is Black. Married since 1988.
Themes: parenting, dating services, family expectations, neighborhood/environment, identity awareness
- Donna shares that she wanted to give up on the video dating service she was using because men did not want to date outside of their own race. Recent studies have shown that Black women and Asian men are the least desirable on online dating sites. Some say that online dating has increased interracial relationships, while others say it has reinforced segregation and racism. What do you think? Discuss this article about racial discrimination and online dating: https://www.npr.org/2018/01/09/575352051/least-desirable-how-racial-discrimination-plays-out-in-online-dating
- Donna talks about how her mom had a preconceived notion about Craig because of where he was from. What are some of the cultural differences in various regions of the U.S. How can we talk about cultural differences without relying on stereotypes and generalizations?
- Craig and Donna talk about the conscious decisions they have made because of their racial identities such as who hails the cab, and which neighborhood they should live in. Because Craig is white he hails the cab and is the first person to walk in the door when they are house hunting. How does your race or the race of your friends, family, or partners influence some your decisions?
- Donna talks about how her mother stressed the importance of good diction and eliminating a strong accent when speaking English. She did this because she worried Donna’s Blackness would ultimately lessen her opportunities in the world. There are many reasons why people code-switch, the practice of alternating between styles of language. Read the article The Five Reasons Why People Code Switch and share an example of when and why you, a family member, or friend changed how you talked. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2013/04/13/177126294/five-reasons-why-people-code-switch
- What new things did Craig have to think about when he started dating Donna? What do you think Craig was thinking when he commented on Donna’s race?
- Donna mentions Craig’s family’s habit of not saying things overtly. What are the benefits and consequences of this habit? Is your family comfortable talking directly about race/racism?
- Donna and Craig chose not to live in College Point, NYC, which Donna’s mother described as “lily-white.” What did Donna and Craig do to find out if their new neighborhood was the right fit for them? How diverse is your neighborhood? If you had to move, how important would diversity be in deciding where you would live?
Episode 8: Anastasia and Symeon
Symeon is Black, Anastasia is white. Married since 2011.
Themes: parenting, online dating, identity awareness, racial stereotypes, media, white privilege
- Where Anastasia grew up, white people predominantly lived on one side of town, while people of color lived on the other side. Do you notice this racial segregation in your town? Why do you think this is? Explore the concept of redlining, the refusal of a loan or insurance to someone because of where they live. Read and discuss about how redlining has an impact on communities today: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/03/28/redlining-was-banned-50-years-ago-its-still-hurting-minorities-today/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e58cabb76e7c
- Anastasia and Symeon shared about an experience when a white parent had bought a Christmas ornament with children’s faces on it for their son’s class. They quickly noticed that the faces were all white although the class has Black and Asian students. Anastasia and Symeon debated over which parent should address the problem with the parent who bought the ornament. Ultimately, Symeon decided to speak to the parent. They both agreed that the conversation would have a greater impact coming from a Black dad. Do you think conversations about race should be led by people of color or white people?
- When visiting a park in an affluent neighborhood, Anastasia disregarded the “no bikes” sign on a tennis court and let her kids ride their bikes. Symeon arrived a few minutes later upset. He called her out and said her willingness to break the rules without a second thought was exactly white privilege. Symeon explained that as a Black man he has to be hyper aware of his environment, and would not want to be confronted for any reason by a neighbor or cop in front of his kids. What is white privilege? Have you ever been called out for your privilege? Have you ever called someone out? Read and discuss this article on calling in vs. calling out privilege: https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/01/guide-to-calling-in/
- Consider Anastasia’s experience with her name. Does your name have a cultural significance? Are there assumptions people make about your name and your identity? Have you ever wrongly assumed someone’s race because of their name?
- Anastasia and Symeon talk about their concerns raising children in a rural area versus an urban area. What are the limitations set by racism? Define and explore the terms “white flight” and “gentrification.”
- Anastasia talks about having to be conscientious of her children being biracial and how other people sometimes say/do things out of ignorance. In what ways could we as a society become more knowledgeable about the experiences of multiracial people? Why do you think their 5-year-old asked for a picture of President Obama?
Episode 9: Aarati and Jonathan
Jonathan is white and Jewish, Aarati is Indian. Married since 2006.
Themes: parenting, online dating, family heritage, identity awareness, religion/faith
- Jonathan realizes that the world sees Aarati differently because of the color of her skin. Have you ever experienced this realization with a friend or someone close to you? Talk about that experience and what it felt like for you.
- Jonathan talks about the positive aspects of his children being biracial, sharing that they will be more “worldly.” What other strengths can be attributed to a mixed-race identity?
- Jonathan says his children understand that “there can be more than one way” in the context of racial identity. What do you think that means? Jonathan and Aarati’s children have many non-white friends. How diverse is your own friend group? Have you ever thought about this before? Fill out the Assessing My Life Experiences Worksheet and discuss: https://www2.cortland.edu/dotAsset/265452.pdf
- What do you think were some underlying fears for Aarati’s mother when it came to planning their wedding? Why do you think she had those fears? Aarati’s mother assumed that white people could not eat spicy food. What are some racial stereotypes that may seem minor, but are in fact problematic?
- Jonathan and Aarati’s family celebrates both their Jewish and Indian cultures. What are the challenges and strengths of growing up with multiple faith/cultural traditions?
- Jonathan shares about a time when a man went up to Aarati and rudely said, “So are you Indian?” Jonathan says these types of experiences have been enormously valuable and that he has grown from them. What do you think he means by this?
Episode 10: Lori and Manuel
Lori is Black, Manuel is Spanish. Married since 1999.
Themes: parenting, immigrant experience, family expectations/heritage, faith/religion, identity formation
- In Lori’s experience, Spanish culture is unaware that some of their ideas/customs/phrases are racist. Have you experienced a culture outside of the U.S.? How does that culture respond to race/racism?
- Lori reflects on growing up in the Midwest and avoiding “being really Black” while not being ashamed to be Black or wanting to be white. What do you think Lori means by “being really Black?” Have you ever felt like you had to hide or limit parts of your identity? What protective strategies did Lori used to fit in during her high school years? How did that work out for her?
- Lori talks about her experiences of being the only woman of color in a particular space. Have you ever been the only person like you in a space? How did it feel? She also talks about the decision she made to not have white friends in college. Have you ever made a conscious decision to surround yourself with people that look like you to help solidify your identity? Is it considered racism when someone makes the decision to actively avoid certain racial groups?
- Lori mentions being on her best behavior when meeting Manuel’s grandmother. Manuel discusses a challenging situation at the dry cleaners. In what ways do you think interracial couples may monitor their behavior when meeting new people or interacting in public?
Episode 11: Michelle and Melissa
Michelle is Black, Melissa is white. Married since 2017.
Themes: LGBTQ, politics, family heritage, identity awareness
- Melissa says “joy is a form of resistance.” What does this mean to you? How can filling our social space with happy things be a way of speaking out or withstanding oppression? Can you think of an example where this strategy could be useful in your own life or with groups you are a part of?
- Melissa talks about the risk associated with being queer and being in an interracial marriage. What risks have you taken or would take for love?
- Melissa realized around age 15 that there was more to life than just what her parents had taught her. Can you remember the first time you questioned something you were taught and how you explored the alternatives?
- Michelle talks about being nice to Melissa’s family despite their racist remarks and obvious disapproval of her. Are there more or less appropriate times to address/confront racism? If you don’t address or confront racism, are you enabling it?
- Melissa describes her neighborhood as historically racist and narrow-minded. Why do you think her neighbors felt the need to monitor Michelle when she was helping Melissa clean out her father’s house? How do you think Melissa became so open-minded and non-racist despite coming from that community?
Episode 12: Florence and Ed
Florence is Black, Ed is white. Married since 1968, One year after Loving v Virginia.
Themes: parenting, civil rights, identity awareness
- Have you ever talked to anyone who lived during the Civil Rights Movement, 1954 – 1968, about their experiences? Do you think 50 years is a long time or short time ago? Do you think a lot has been accomplished in terms of civil rights since that time period?
- Same sex marriage was legalized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges), interracial marriage in 1967 (Loving v. Virginia). What are the implications of these two cases for American families today?
- Florence and Ed both grew up with segregation and witnessing extreme violence against people of color. Today there are fewer laws that promote and allow segregation. But is there still segregation in our society? How is this discussed by people in your community? In the media? At school? By politicians?
- Ed and Florence said they chose a more difficult road by marrying outside of their race. They knew they would endure disapproval, harassment, and discrimination. Have you or someone you know made a decision that made for a more difficult road? Explain.
- Florence and Ed carried around their marriage certificate just in case they were challenged by authorities. What groups have to show documentation to prove their rights in the U.S. today?
- Discuss the overt racism experienced in the 1960s with the more common covert racism experienced today.
- Florence’s perception of white people was based on her parents’ teachings. Explore how your parents may have passed down perceptions about race. How do you think their teachings had an impact on you?
- Florence’s mother did not want her sister to babysit for a white couple. Think about the opportunities Black people missed out on in order to protect themselves. To what extent do you think this still happens today?
Episode 13: Loving Day Special
Reflections on the significance of Loving v. Virginia
- What did the creators of the law fear would happen if interracial marriages were legal? What values supported this law? Do you think these values are still supported today? Who did the law aim to protect? Consider the ways laws today protect some citizens’ rights over others.
- Imagine living in a society where interracial marriage was not only illegal but incredibly dangerous. Do you think you would have the courage to face danger and social exclusion to fight for your right to marry the person you loved?
- Reflect on the experiences of Mildred and Richard Loving and how their interracial marriage was seen as taboo. Give an example of something that has been considered taboo, but is currently shifting into a norm within society today. How does one begin to change taboos into norms?
- Do you feel like as a country we are on a path forward in terms of social equity and inclusion? Why or why not?
Episode 14: Kim and Mike
Mike is Taiwanese, Kim is white. Married since 2015.
Themes: parenting, immigrant experience, identity awareness
- Kim explains how marriage was not on her radar. Discuss her view on marriage and how that view would be perceived in past and present times. How does Kim’s thinking develop about having a biracial child?
- Mike explains that he and Kim would not be together, due to varying factors, if they had not met the way they did. On online dating sites people can select possible matches by age, race, parenthood status, etc. How has the use of dating apps/online dating changed the way individuals meet and date?
- How do you respond to Mike’s ideas about stereotypes? Why does living in Hawaii appeal to Mike? What other factors do you think Mike was facing when deciding to introduce Kim to his family?
Episode 15: Eric and David
Eric is Black and David is white. Married since 2016, one year after same sex marriage became legal in all U.S. states.
Themes: LGBTQ, religion/faith
- How do you respond to the role of imagination and “conjuring” in Eric and David’s conversation about their future together? What images of Eric and David’s wedding do you have?
- Respond to this quote from David’s view of their relationship, “It’s the embracing of complexity that allows us to be together.” Respond to this quote from Eric: “I hate white people a lot…I want to locate the spaces of otherness in my brain and root them out.”
- David discusses his public and private roles throughout the episode. How do those roles differ?
- What role does communication play in the beginning of Eric and David’s relationship? How does communication affect daily interactions between people?
- How do Eric and David confront the situations where people do not agree with their sexuality and religious beliefs? How have you handled situations where people do not agree with your views on sexuality or religion?
- As a Presbyterian pastor, David believes that God blesses all unions. How do people like David, who identify as both LGBTQ and Christian, navigate faith traditions and church communities?
Episode 16: Lesley and Cord
Lesley is white and Cord is Black. Married since 2009
Themes: parenting, family heritage, political climate
- The first encounter that Lesley and Cord had involves a disagreement when Cord tells Lesley he is reading a book by St. Augustine. While Cord admires St. Augustine, Lesley admits to hating him. Despite their differing opinions, they continue to grow closer and develop a relationship. How can first encounters and impressions contribute to or detract from the development of relationships?
- What do Lesley and Cord mean when they say that having an interracial family takes more work than to be a mono-racial family…but it is totally worth it?
- In Lesley’s essay, she wrote about what she calls the “persistence of race’s influence in our expectations.” What is your view about this “persistence.” https://whyy.org/articles/essay-this-white-chocolate-martini-does-not-mean-what-you-think-it-means/
- Lesley shared that some of her family members are overtly racist. Cord’s grandfather was very concerned when he found out that Cord was seriously dating a white woman. How do they navigate these situations? What did they learn about their family members because of these situations?
- What meal did Lesley know as Southern food but Cord knew as soul food/Black food? Cord recalls a time in New England when he was called a derogatory word. What are Northern and Southern ideals and customs? Discuss whether or not these regions fit their stereotypes.
- Why do you think Cord ignores racial prejudice or waits for it to rise to a certain level before he acknowledges it, while Lesley is more immediately affected by it?
- Why do you think Black people recognize their daughter as multiracial but white people assume she is white?
- After the election of Donald Trump and the rise of racist incidents in schools and neighborhoods, Lesley and Cord felt renewed pressure to be very intentional about what they say to their daughter and how they want to live their lives. Did the 2016 presidential election change anything for you?
Episode 17: Steve and Christine
Christine is Black, Steve is white and Jewish. They have been together since the 1960s.
Themes: family heritage, parenting, civil rights
- Respond to Christine’s comments about having “the talk” with their son, Zevi, when he was in high school.
- How did Steve and Christine signify their union/commitment to each other? Why did Steve and Christine ultimately get legally married? What are the benefits of being legally married in the U.S.?
- How did Christine and her mother’s attitudes differ? Discuss why their views might have been so different. Why were Christine’s grandparents more accepting of her relationship?
- Christine says that she wasn’t raised to be racist. Reflect on that idea. Can you still be racist even if you weren’t raised that way and visa versa?
- When did Steve start to become more involved in community building in the Black community? What motivated him to do so?
- Steve and Christine used their bookstore as a platform for combating racial and political unrest through the literature they sold and the conversations they held with customers. They described this Philadelphia bookstore as a haven for racial justice advocacy that the city as a whole does not possess. The bookstore was a microcosm of not Philadelphia itself, but rather the goals, values, and aspirations of people like Steve and Christine who desire equality and progressivism. How can places like these contribute to societal change as a whole, even when there is disagreement or turmoil within a city or community?
Episode #18: Courtney and Kate
Courtney is Black and Kate is white. Married since 2014.
Themes: religion, LGBTQ, civil rights, politics
- Why do you think Courtney’s family was more concerned about her sexual orientation than her interracial relationship. How do you think Courtney felt when the pastor looked at her and said, “It’s time to get right with God”?
- At Kate’s mom’s funeral her uncle patted Courtney’s hair. Courtney describes this as awkward but not the first time this has happened. Why do you think some white people touch Black people’s hair?
- Kate points out the dating sites Christian Mingle, Black People Meet, and JDate. How do you feel about these sites that are for specific groups of people?
- What is your perspective on racial segregation in Philadelphia? Why do you think Kate who is white was called the N-word on her block? Why does Courtney say that it has been more awkward with the newer people in the neighborhood as compared to the older, long-term residents? What happened when Courtney was outside wearing cleaning gloves?
- Kate and Courtney have similar tastes in music. What role does music and the arts play in bringing together people of different backgrounds/races?
- When talking about the South, Courtney says that everywhere is racist, but the way it plays out in interactions in very, very different. Do you agree/disagree? What are the interactions she gives as examples?
- Courtney and Kate talk about their initial hesitancy to get married because marriage was seen as a sell out and they were proud of their queer union, yet their eventual decision to get married was influenced by a dying friend who was able to marry her wife. They also wanted to recognize the work of others who fought to make same-sex marriage legal. People around us undoubtedly shape the decisions we make, either through social action or social inaction. Are both important? Are both equally powerful?
- Why did they send in their engagement announcement to the New York Times?
- Kate says about her marriage, “I’m claiming this right that the government wanted to deny me based on my gender and race.” What rights do you claim that have previously been denied to you?
Episode #19: Shawn and Jen
Shawn is Black, Jen is white. Married since 2015.
Possible Themes: parenting, politics, racial identity
- What were Shawn’s self-doubts and concerns before starting the relationship with Jen and visiting her family? Why was Shawn so was hyperaware of his surroundings when they were dating?
- Shawn and Jen openly admit to surrounding themselves with neighbors who look like them, engaging with like-minded individuals, and becoming more politically active. Is this behavior more crucial for interracial couples?
- How did Shawn and Jen respond after a family left the playground when they showed up? How might you respond in that situation?
- Why do you think people make unsolicited comments about biracial children? Their son has blonde hair and some find this feature unusual. What is something unusual about your features? How have people reacted to you because of it? Does it make you feel special, different, or unique?
- What are the things Shawn and Jen plan on teaching their son because he is Black?
- Reflecting on the 50-year anniversary of the Loving court case Shawn says, “we’ve come so far,” but when he reflects on the 2016 presidential election he says he questions how much progress has been made. What does Shawn mean by this? Why do you think Shawn has trouble taking with his more conservative friends when formerly they could always have reasonable conversations? Respond to Shawn’s remarks about the election, “Is this the last gasp of white supremacy or a resurgence?
Episode #20: Len and Fernando
Fernando is Cuban-Chinese, Len is white. They have been together since 1981 and married in 2014.
Themes: LGBTQ, parenting, family heritage, immigrant experiences, racial identity
- After being together for so long, why did Len and Fernando decide to get married? Fernando and Len made headlines when they sued the Governor of Pennsylvania with the ACLU’s assistance for their right to marry in Pennsylvania. Read this article from 2013: http://www.thedp.com/article/2013/07/law-lecturers-sue-gov-corbett-for-right-to-marriage And this one after their historic win in 2014: https://penntoday.upenn.edu/2014-05-29/latest-news/penn-law-faculty-and-alumni-assist-overturning-pennsylvania%E2%80%99s-same-sex-marria
What is the ACLU? What do they do? Are you familiar with any of the ACLU’s cases? Some you may have heard about- Brown v. Board of Education, Loving v. Virginia, Roe v. Wade. Check out more here: https://www.aclu.org/successes-american-civil-liberties-union
- Why did Fernando need to think deeply about spending the rest of his life with a white man? Do you think many people of color have this moment of self-reflection in interracial relationships?
- Fernando shares an example about how different they cut vegetables. What are some little things that you assume to be universal, but later found out are not?
- What challenges did Len and Fernando face when they decided to adopt a child? What fears did they have? How has raising their African-American daughter affected the ways that Len and Fernando think about race?
- Why did Fernando’s mother tell him not to bring home a Black baby? What happened when they first brought her to visit his parents?
- Len is white, Fernando is Cuban-Chinese, and their daughter is African-American. Together, they form a very multiracial, multicultural family. Consider what your family is like. What are some benefits and challenges of having a family like yours?
Episode #21: Kevin and Lisa
Lisa is white, Kevin is Korean. Married since 2009.
Themes: family heritage/acceptance, racial identity, online dating, adoption
- Why did Kevin ask early on if Lisa was ok with having biracial kids?
- How do you think Kevin’s upbringing, being adopted and raised by white parents, influenced his views on race?
- Kevin shared that his parents did not encourage much exploration of his and his brother’s Korean culture. Why do you think this happened? What impact do you think this had on Kevin and his brother?
- Growing up, what was Kevin’s interaction with other Asians?
- Even though Kevin and Lisa both have white parents, how are their families different? How did the class background, hometown, religion, and political affiliation of their parents have an impact on them?
- Adopting children outside of one’s own race poses a challenge and opportunity because race and culture are often intertwined. Parents must find a balance between exposing the child to new and diverse cultures while still preserving the child’s own cultural heritage. What are your thoughts and experiences on transracial adoption?
Episode #22: David and Belinda
David is white, Belinda is Black. Married since 1986
Themes: parenting, history, adoption
- David admitted during the episode that he had just learned about the Loving v. Virginia case 5 years prior. Did you learn about this case in school or from your family/peers? Why do you think this monumental court case is not well known?
- Why did Belinda think David was just a “crazy white guy” stalking her? What made her decide to go on a date with him?
- What do Belinda’s friends and family mean when they say, “He’s not a white guy, that’s just David.”
- Belinda says, “we are not an interracial couple, we are a balanced couple.” What does she mean by this?
- Why did Belinda feel like she had died and gone to heaven when she drove onto Hampton’s campus? Why are Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) such an important part of American history?
- Belinda talks about the importance of David not only loving her, but also her daughter from a previous relationship. How do our children, parents, or other loved ones contribute to or shape the bond that a couple shares?
Episode #23: Marleny and Joshu
Joshu is white, Marleny is Black and Dominican. Married since 2014.
Themes: politics, racial tension, family heritage, language & culture
- What are microaggressions and what are some examples Marleny and Joshu give?
- Joshu talks about the lack of diversity in the certain professions. What fields do you think are not diverse? Why is this problematic?
- How did Marleny’s culture and background differ from Joshu’s? What helped Joshu connect with Marleny’s family?
- How did Marleny feel after the election of President Trump? How did she deal with Joshu and others during that time?
- Discuss the concept of internalized racism? What social movements have tried to counter this type of racism?
- Marleny talks about an incident in the elevator. Does the man assume she is African-American? If he was aware of her true racial identity, would that have changed the way he communicated with the couple or the remark he made?
Episode #24: Mee and Ken
Mee is Korean-American and Ken is a white Irish immigrant. Married since 2003.
Themes: immigrant experiences, religion, politics, family heritage
- Mee is often mistaken as the immigrant in the relationship? How does she feel about this?
- How has Mee learned to adjust to othering or racist behaviors from people?
- What similarities do they find between Korean and Irish culture?
- How does Ken feel when he finds out he can’t get married in the church he grew up in?
- The attack on the World Trade Center on September 11th was a defining moment in their lives. After that Ken had difficulty getting a work visa. Because of this situation they decided to try for a fiancé visa. Discuss how tragic events and immigration processes have the ability to transform lives.
Episode #25: Jean and Mas
Jean is white, Mas is Japanese. They’ve been together since 1972.
Themes: immigrant experiences, family heritage, white privilege, politics
- Jean and Mas met through their work at the American Friends Service Committee, a peace and social justice organization based in Philadelphia and started by the Quakers in 1917. How important is it for couples to share political and social justice views?
- How does Jean learn more about herself as she learns about Japanese culture? When have you learned more about yourself by learning about another culture?
- Mas parents’ met in a Japanese internment camp during World War II? What do you know about this time in U.S. history? How do you think this experience impacted them and their children? More on Japanese internment camps: https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/japanese-american-relocation
- Why do their children have two different last names? How do their children feel about this? How do you feel about your name? Have you witnessed people being made fun of for their names? How do handle meeting people whose names are difficult for you to pronounce?
- Jean says that when they got together it was easier to be a white and Asian couple than it was to be a white and Black couple. Do you think that is still the case today? Why was Jean against marriage for many years? What social changes made her ok with getting married?
- Mas is very uncomfortable with public displays of affection and physical contact in public, while Jean communicates her affection through physical touch. Touch is just one of the many languages of love. How can couples sustain closeness and commitment when they don’t share the same love language?
Episode #26: Ermias and Jen
Ermias is Eritrean and Black, Jen is white. Married since 2000.
Themes: immigrant experience, parenting, travel, family heritage
- Because there was no internet, Jen and Ermias wrote letters for years. How has the internet changed dating culture today?
- Due to the Eritrean–Ethiopian War, Ermias was taken to a camp to do his national service. He did not want to join the military but he had no choice. Do you have family members who served in the military or are currently serving? What do you know about their experiences? Have you ever thought about joining the military?
- Jen says, “when you are afraid of losing someone it makes it really clear that you want to be with them.” Have you lost someone you love? How do you honor their memory?
- What has Ermias learned about race and his blackness since he moved to athe U.S.?
- Jen talks about the fact that the U.S. is not the only country that limits people’s movements. How do you feel about migration and borders? See the list of nationalities that do not need a visa to enter the U.S. for a tourist visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html Which countries are not on the list? Why?
- At first, Jen and Ermias felt safe when they move back to the U.S. from Eritrea. But after some time they notice the everyday stressors and racism in the U.S. and they have new fears. What does Jenn fear? What unique feeling might immigrants have about police/military? Why does Jen carry the family’s passport?
- What does Jen mean when she says she seeks out people and experiences to show her kids that there are other ways of being in the world?
Discussion Questions for Younger Listeners
- In one of the interviews, Chavis asks, “Why can’t two people who love each other be together?” Mildred and Richard Loving’s granddaughter said, “If it’s genuine love, color doesn’t matter.” What do you think of these statements?
- Do you think your family expects you to be friends with certain types of people, with certain races? How do you know what your parents expect?
- What does it mean to be happy in your own home? In your own family? With your own self? Have you ever felt rejected? How did you cope with that feeling?
- Many of the couples who spoke had to make a choice to honor their own happiness over keeping their family or parents happy. Do you think this was a wise decision?
- Pick two religions or cultures you are familiar with and describe the similarities and differences between the two.
- In some cultures, arranged marriages are the norm. Describe your feelings towards the custom.
- What does heritage mean? What role should your heritage play in how you live your life?
- In one interview, the couple talked about being in danger because they loved each other but were of different races. What would that experience be like? What could you do about that?
- How do the people in these interviews show us what it is like to love another person who is different?
- How do the people in these interviews show us what it means to be in a family? What did you learn from these interviews about different types of families? How many different types of families do you know through your friends and relatives? Are there questions you would like to ask them about their lives? What are these questions?
- Do you know what racial segregation is? Do you see it in your life? Do you see it in your neighborhood, church/mosque, school, stores…where else? Do you know why racial segregation exists?
- Several couples talked about adoption in their interviews. What does adoption make you think about? What questions do you have about adoption? How do you feel about transracial adoption, when the parent is a different race than the child?
- How should parents support children when they experience racism and bullying in elementary school? In middle school?
- What stuck out for you about the couples’ racial identities, sexual orientations, cultures or religions?
- In a marriage, which differences do you believe are important and which differences are unimportant?
- Some sources say that Mildred Loving actually never identified as Black but rather Native American. Does that change this story? This TIME article about Mildred Loving reminds us that history is more complicated than it looks. http://time.com/4362508/loving-v-virginia-personas/
Lesson Title: 36 Questions to Foster Friendship
Subject: U.S. History, Family Heritage, Psych/Human Behavior, ELA
Suggested Grade Level: 9-12
Time Suggested: 2 class sessions
Pre-requisite: lessons on listening and speaking skills
Written by Amber Lahay, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice
Lesson Description: Students will have the opportunity to practice interview skills while getting to know another student with whom they may not usually associate. Psychologist Arthur Aron conducted a study to determine if a certain set of questions could foster intimacy between people who are otherwise strangers. The questions get gradually more and more probing, suggesting increased vulnerability among participants fosters a closer relationship. The New York Times named the question set The 36 questions that lead to love. Some people have also suggested that this set of questions could help to nurture friendships across racial, gender, and class lines.
Connection to The Loving Project Podcast: Solid interview skills and the ability to capture someone’s story allow us to keep history alive. Fostering and valuing relationships among people who may be different may lead to positive changes in social norms.
Objectives: Students will strengthen their interviewing skills as well as have the opportunity to get to know a classmate they do not typically talk to or hang out with.
Is it possible to get to know someone new in a meaningful way through a series of pre-arranged questions?
Materials Needed: Printout of Arthur Aron’s 36 questions for each student/student pair as compiled in Daniel Jones’ article The 36 Questions That Lead to Love.
- Pair students with someone who they do not typically talk to or hang out with. Once in their pairs students will practice interview and listening skills using Arthur Aron’s question set. Students will be instructed to ask their partner these questions, practicing their active listening and interviewing skills.
- Once the question sets are completed, students will reconvene and have the opportunity to reflect on the experience. The teacher may ask students if they feel these questions “work” in getting to know someone on a deeper level.
- The assignment may lead to an essay or oral discussion as a wrap up, as well as additional conversation among the pairs.
Outcome/Assessment: Students will start to become comfortable in asking fellow students personal questions, listening, and conducting interviews.
Lesson Title: The Intersection of Race and Immigration Policy
Subject: U. S. History, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Civics and Government
Suggested Grade Level: 9-12
Time Suggested: 1 class session
Written by Amber Lahay, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice
Lesson Description: Immigration policy goes hand in hand with the racial and ethnic makeup of American society. Throughout U.S. history, legislators have used immigration policy to manipulate the racial, ethnic, and cultural makeup of society by deciding who gets accepted into the country.
Connection to The Loving Project Podcast: Many individuals in the podcast are immigrants or first/second generation. The migration patterns of these people, their families, and their communities are dependent on different U.S. immigration policies. These policies directly affect the makeup of interracial families across the United States.
Objectives: Students will gain an understanding of both the formation of some U.S. immigration policies and motivations behind these policies.
Essential Question: In what ways do immigration laws and court decisions influence the racial composition of the United States? Who gains and losses because of these policies?
Materials Needed: Worksheet print out, access to computers to do research or print outs of policy related readings:
- Chinese Exclusion Act (Immigration Act of 1882) https://history.state.gov/milestones/1866-1898/chinese-immigration
- Ozawa v. United States https://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/ozawa-v-united-states
- The Johnson-Reed Act https://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/immigration-act
- Hart-Celler Act https://www.history.com/topics/us-immigration-since-1965
- Immigration Act of 1990 https://immigration.laws.com/immigration-act-of-1990
- Executive Order: DACA https://www.nilc.org/issues/immigration-reform-and-executive-actions/dapa-and-expanded-daca-programs/
- Executive Order: Travel Ban
- Students will break up into small groups. Each group will be responsible for researching a specific law or court decision that shaped U.S. immigration policy (Students can either do their own research or use the provided reading links). During the first half of class, they will fill in the boxes on their worksheet for their assigned policy.
- During the second half of class, students will report back to the entire class on the pertinent parts of these laws and court decisions. Students will be able to populate the entire worksheet using information presented by each group..
Outcome/Assessment: Students will be able to identify some of the immigration policies that over time have shaped the racial composition of the United States over time.
Directions: In small groups, read the reading for your assigned law/policy/court decision and complete the sections of the table related to your law/policy/court decision.
Lesson Title: What is a Family?
Subject: English Language Arts, Social Studies
Suggest Grade Level: 1-2
Time Suggested: 1-2 class sessions
Written by Angela Gerstle, Penn State Abington
Lesson Description: Students will learn about different types of families using literature and sharing information about their own family.
Connection to The Loving Project Podcast: In the Loving Project Podcast couples describe how they became committed to each other and eventually a family. The couples talked about how their care, love, and devotion for each other developed as time went on. This lesson enables students to learn about all different types of families and to share the love of their family with classmates.
Objectives: Students will be able to recognize what a family is and describe one.
Essential Question: What is a family? What are its features?
Materials Needed: blank paper, pencil, multicultural crayons or markers: https://www.amazon.com/Crayola-Multicultural-Crayons-24-count/dp/B00QFWKRXM
The Family Book by Todd Parr https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/120654.The_Family_Book)
The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9594175-the-great-big-book-of-families)
- Begin with a discussion about what the students’ families are like (how many people, names and ages of members, favorite activities, pets, favorite places in the household(s), number of households, who lives in each household).
- Students draw and write about their families and share their results with each other.
- Read aloud The Family Book or The Great Big Book of Families. Check on comprehension as the students follow along. There are also video clips of readings of the books. This could last for more than one class session.
- Have the students share any new ideas they learned about families. List responses on chart paper/blackboard. Lead students in a discussion about how their own family is the same of different from the ones in the story. Have students identify the commonalities of all families and add their observations to the chart paper/blackboard.
- Afterwards, have the children draw family pictures and write sentences/words explaining what their picture shows.
Outcome/Assessment: Students will share their family drawing and tell hoe their family is the same of different than other families.
Special Education and English Language Learners Accommodations: Special Education accommodations may involve a scripter, a voice recording tape of the book, or completing the assignment on a computer. English Language Learners’ accommodations may involve use of a book translated in the child’s first language.
Childrens Books to Embrace Family Diversity http://www.welcomingschools.org/pages/diverse-books-featuring-all-kinds-of-families/
Lesson Title: The Loving Project: An Introduction to Interracial Marriage Legislation
Subject: History, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Civics and Government
Suggested Grade Level: 8-12
Time Suggested: 6-8 class sessions
Written by Brie Starks, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice
Lesson Description: The following lesson plan directs research and discussion around Loving v. Virginia and anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. Over four weeks, students learn about this case, the process of cases making it to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the historical and current status of interracial marriage in a global context. In the fifth and sixth weeks, the class will create a youth-focused study guide to Loving v. Virginia based on their research.
Connection to The Loving Project Podcast: The Loving Project podcast celebrates 50 years since the U.S. Supreme Court decision to make interracial marriage legal across the United States. Many of the interviewees in the Loving Project Podcast comment on their experiences as interracial couples during the time period shortly after, and even many decades after, the decision in Loving v. Virginia.
Objectives: Students will learn about the history of interracial marriage and its journey to become legal, the case of Loving v. Virginia and its key elements, and the role of the ACLU. Students will understand the process of cases getting to the Supreme Court, miscegenation laws, and current implications for interracial marriage and relationships.
Essential Question: What was the process for interracial marriage to become legal in the United States? What is the current situation with interracial marriage?
- The Loving Project https://lovingproject.com/;
- Loving v. Virginia https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/decision-loving-v-virginia
- Jason Gillmer’s The Lessons from Loving v. Virginia still Resonate 50 years Later https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/may-june2017/lessons-from-loving-v-virginia-still-resonate
- Patricia Hruby Powell’s Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case https://www.amazon.com/Loving-vs-Virginia-Documentary-Landmark/dp/1452125902/ref=la_B001JP7RE2_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1526742685&sr=1-2
Week 1: The teacher and class will work together to investigate the process of a case making it to the Supreme Court, and the various steps involved moving from lower courts.
Week 2: The teacher and class will cover the facts of the U.S. Supreme Court, Loving v. Virginia, and listen to several of the Loving Project podcasts based on the teacher’s selection.
Week 3: The teacher and class will learn about the history of anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, at both the state and federal levels, particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Week 4: The teacher and class will learn about current issues related to interracial marriage and dating in a global setting, focusing on several different countries and regions of the world, in addition to the United States.
Outcome/Assessment: Through weeks 5 and 6, using topics and material from each of the previous four weeks, students can create their own study guide employing a variety of approaches (assembly presentations, writings, drawings and paintings, video, Twitter, Facebook, skits, blog) to share with peers to help other youth better understand Loving v. Virginia and issues related to this case.
Special Education and English Language Learners Accommodations: For students who learn at a different pace, teachers may use picture books intended for younger learners. Also, https://www.oyez.org/ describes and examines legal cases in a simpler form.
Additional Resources (websites, books, articles):
Nell Irvin, The History of White People http://books.wwnorton.com/books/The-History-of-White-People/
James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son https://www.amazon.com/Notes-Native-Son-James-Baldwin/dp/0807006238/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1526142522&sr=8-1&keywords=notes+of+a+native+son
Heidi W. Durrow, The Girl Who Fell From the Sky https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/girl-who-fell-from-the-sky-heidi-w-durrow/1100261379
Danzy Senna, Caucasia: A Novel https://www.amazon.com/Caucasia-Novel-Danzy-Senna/dp/1573227161
Title: What the World Doesn’t See
Subject: Social Studies, English Language Arts, Visual Arts
Suggested Grade Level: 6-12
Time Suggested: 1-2 class sessions
Written by Decontee Davis, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice
Lesson Description: People of different races may feel uncomfortable expressing themselves in ways that feel natural to them. Society sometimes assigns stereotypes (either positive or negative) to racial groups. These stereotypes challenge others’ abilities to see the racial groups’ members as individuals. This lesson will allow students to creatively express how they choose to define themselves apart from the stereotypes or expectations that society places on them.
Connection to The Loving Project Podcast: Just as the couples in the podcast shared their stories and unique perspectives that are often invisible in society, students can also explore their own stories and identities that are often unheard or misunderstood.
Objectives: Students will understand how society may define and describe people, and how these people may actually differ greatly from these characterizations.
Essential Question: How do people choose to define themselves? How do these self-definitions differ from society’s characterizations of the same persons?
Materials Needed: Artistic tools to create portraits: paint, paint brushes, pencils, multicultural crayons/markers: https://www.amazon.com/Crayola-Multicultural-Crayons-24-count/dp/B00QFWKRXM The colors should reflect various shades of the students’ skin tone, eye and hair color. The World Portrait Template, Personal Portrait Template, and Personal Statement Sheet (below).
- Before the students create their portraits, the teacher may direct some research in local newspapers and social media to determine the social stereotypes that will form the basis for the World Portraits. Discussion of the students’ findings will help form the basis for the first portraits.
- Using the World Portrait templates, students will create images of how they believe the world sees them.
- Next, students will create how they personally see themselves outside society’s views, using the Personal Portrait. Students can also incorporate drawings of meaningful objects that represent their identity.
- After the students have finished, students will present both of their portraits to the class and share their reflections on the personal statements they wrote to accompany the portraits.
- The class may also exhibit these portraits and statements to engage the larger school community in a discussion about social stereotypes and personal identities.
- The teacher may wish to extend this project to include discussions about how parents’ and friends’ expectations also challenge youths “being real.”
Outcome/Assessment: Student will gain a greater appreciation for how individuals choose to express themselves beyond racial stereotypes.
World Portrait Template
Personal Portrait Template
Personal Statement Sheet
I define myself to be…
I feel the world sees me as…
Lesson Title: Tough Conversations
Subject: U.S. History, Family Heritage, Social Studies
Suggested Grade Levels: 9-12
Time Suggested: 2-3 class sessions
Written by Katherine Martinez, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice
Lesson Description: This lesson plan covers real experiences/scenarios of racism and prejudice experienced by multiracial families from The Loving Project Podcast. Students will have the opportunity to learn about and practice real-life scenarios to increase their understanding of these types of families. Moreover, students will develop skills that will help them to have informed conversations about race relations.
Connection to The Loving Project Podcast:
Couples in The Loving Project Podcast experienced the scenarios used in this lesson plan. The scenarios involve matters of race, discrimination, and the raising of biracial/multiracial children. Names and some details have been altered for purposes of this lesson.
Students will be able to practice and become more comfortable having conversations that are difficult yet necessary about race and discrimination. This activity will also allow students to gain a better understanding of the experiences that mixed race families and children have on a regular basis.
How can parents of biracial/multiracial children have conversations that are effective, sensitive, honest, and age appropriate? How can individuals experiencing racism address uncomfortable scenarios? Can parents who are not racially mixed themselves adequately prepare their children for future experiences?
Sheets of paper, one scenario envelope per group
Introduction: One way to begin this lesson is to go over some of the main themes of The Loving Project Podcast and the common thread of parents worrying how to raise mixed- race children in a world that continues to grapple with race, identity, and ethnicity, and the struggle of having to address uncomfortable situations pertaining to racism, prejudice, and discrimination.
- Divide students into small groups and provide each group with a different scenario that a couple from The Loving Project Podcast has experienced.
- Depending upon the class size, some groups may have the same scenario.
- Allow the students 20 minutes or longer to discuss the scenario, answer the discussion questions, and create a short skit on the best and appropriate way to handle the situation/conversation.
- Each group will present its scenario and discuss its answers to the discussion questions.
- Each group will then act out its skit.
- If more than one group had the same scenario, additional discussions may certainly develop, examining the variety of responses and views students may have.
- Have each presentation followed by a class discussion
Students will write a short essay on their skit and why they decided their approach was the most appropriate way to handle the situation. As part of their essay, students will explain how their approach elevates the conversation around race.
You are white and your husband is African-American, and together you have two mixed-raced sons. You go to your son’s school for a parent-teacher conference and see a parent of your son’s classmate holding a Christmas tree ornament with children on it. The parent says that she is giving the ornament as a Christmas present to the teacher. You are bothered because all of the children on the ornament are white and none of the children resemble your son or any of his mixed-race classmates. You go home and tell your husband about the ornament and how you were bothered that the ornament did not reflect the diversity in the class. WHAT SHOULD THIS COUPLE DO?
- How do you think both parents felt about the situation?
- How should they handle the situation?
You are an African-American woman married to a white woman. Together you have two adopted children, Sean, of European descent with fair skin, and Chris, mixed race with darker skin. One day Sean comes home and tells you that he learned about slavery and segregation. He says “Mommy, today I learned that people who look like me were mean to people who look like you.” WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
- How do think each parent felt about the situation?
- How should they handle the situation?
You are a man from India dating an African American woman. Your parents have told you that they do not approve of your girlfriend because she is not Indian and that she is not allowed to come to any family events. They told you that if you continue seeing her they will disown you, and then advised you not to come around as long as you continue your relationship. WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
- How do you think he felt? How do you think his girlfriend will feel about this?
- How should he handle the situation if he wants to stay connected to both his family and girlfriend?
You are an African-American male with very fair skin. Most of your life you have passed for white, and you usually have to disclose that you are actually Black. One day you are at an event and a few of your White friends begin saying derogatory things about blacks and other minority races. You tell them that you are Black, and one of them responded with this comment: “if I knew you were Black I wouldn’t have said that.” WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
- How do you think he felt in that moment?
- How should he handle the situation?
Lesson Title: What’s So Funny?: Identifying Racial Stereotypes in American Films
Subject: US History, Visual Arts, English Language Arts, Social Studies
Suggested Grade Level: 10-12
Time Suggested: 3-4 class sessions
Written by Lauren Holmboe, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy & Practice
Lesson Description: This lesson utilizes The Loving Project podcast and two American films to examine the realities and stereotypes of interracial marriage in modern society.
Connection to The Loving Project: The Loving Project podcast shows a variety of interracial dating and marriage experiences and gives special attention to the couples’ families’ expectations and concerns.
Objectives: Students will reflect on the use of humor, strengthen their media literacy, and sharpen their listening skills.
Essential Question: How do some American films portray interracial dating and marriage? How does this portrayal compare and contrast with the realities of interracial couples’ actual experiences?
Materials Needed: Access to the Loving Project podcast and to both films Guess Who (2005) and The Week Of (2018). https://lovingproject.com/category/episodes/
- After organizing the class into small groups, the teacher will assign 1-2 episodes of the podcast to each group. Depending on time allotted the teacher can assign the podcast as homework.
- Each will present their couples’ experiences in a full-class discussion in a jigsaw format http://www.theteachertoolkit.com/index.php/tool/jigsaw
- Students can then view both Guess Who and The Week Of either in class or as homework. The teacher may also select certain segments of each film for viewing or have different groups watch different films.
- The groups can use the grid below to discuss their findings about the film portrayal of interracial dating and marriage. The class can compare and contrast this material with what they heard in the podcast. Are stereotypes funny? Can a film be funny without using stereotypes?
Outcome/Assessment: Each group will decide which scene from a film they would like to remake using their new insight from small group and class discussions. The group can perform the scene as a skit in class or film their skit and post it online or screen during class time. The teacher can assign a final writing assignment in which students reflect on the group’s collective process.
Lesson Title: Living My Life: A Heritage of Personal Experiences
Subject: Social Studies, American History, Human Rights, World Cultures, English Language Arts, Visual Arts
Suggested Grade Levels: 9-12
Time Suggested: one semester
Written by Sarah L. Sharp, Global Philadelphia Association
Lesson Description: In recent decades, there have been two major US Supreme Court cases that have dramatically affected the ways that Americans marry and create families. In 1967, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that interracial couples had the right to marry, and all state laws prohibiting these unions were unconstitutional. The case was Loving v. VA. Much later, in 2015, the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, declared that couples of the same gender had the right to marry in all 50 states.
To commemorate Loving, Farrah Parkes and Brad Linder, an interracial couple, produced the Loving Project which is a set of podcast interviews with many people whose lives were intertwined with Loving or with Obergefell v. Hodges. Both of these cases, as well as the many couples and families who have benefited from the rulings, enable us to learn about the courage to be oneself, the efforts and support it takes to do so, and the overcoming of opposition in order to live one’s own life in the most fulfilled way.
The purpose of this lesson is to give students the opportunity to conduct oral history interviews with adults whom they know who have experienced support and/or opposition as they have matured in their lives. Students will gain increased understanding of individuals’ personal heritage, beyond race, gender, class, and other dimensions of heritage.
Connection to The Loving Project Podcast: In The Loving Project Podcast, interviewees commented that there had been many people (such as relatives and friends) who had assisted them in their journeys to become who they are now. This lesson uses the idea that people are very aware of who and what have helped and hurt them as they have lived their lives.
Objectives: This lesson has several objectives which include learning and practicing oral history interviewing, becoming more aware of adults’ personal challenges and successes, and writing reflections on others’ lives as they reveal their strengths.
Essential Question: What role do personal experiences play in our being able to live our lives?
Materials Needed: Access to The Loving Project podcasts, cell phones, note taking materials https://lovingproject.com/category/episodes/
- Through a jigsaw approach, groups in the class can listen to several different podcasts in the Loving Project to learn of the challenges and successes in dating, marriage, and family relationships which these people experienced. Groups can share the notes each member records with the goal of understanding the personal heritage of each interviewee.
- Students can continue their work in groups to discuss potential interviewees (for example, parents of friends, church/mosque/synagogue members, relatives, even older siblings, teachers) who may become the focus of one 30-minute recorded session.
- The class needs to study and discuss thoroughly the Oral History Tips offered on the UC Berkeley website (http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/libraries/bancroft-library/oral-history-center/oral-history-tips) to learn more about the actual process of conducting oral history interviews.
- While continuing to work in groups, each member may begin to develop questions such as these: “Can you think of a time when you realized that a friend or another person was hurting your effort to be yourself?” “A time when you realized that a friend or another person was helping you?” “What are some ways that your family has helped you to be yourself?” “Hurt your efforts to be yourself?” “What about the issue of race…how has race been an issue in your past?” “How has your own sexuality been an issue in your past?” “What do you think are the major parts of your personal heritage?”
- Students can schedule, conduct, and record their single interview sessions on their phones. Each interview may also have the extension of adding a photo, and utilizing the legal release form attached to this lesson plan.
Outcome/Assessment: Once the first several steps of this lesson are complete, each student may write and submit an essay which describes and analyzes the personal heritages of several of the Loving Project interviewees as well as the individual interviewee whom the student chose. As another possible extension for the class, students may display the photos with captions drawn from the oral history interview sessions in a pop-up exhibit. Such a show may engage the larger school community in inquiring about personal heritage, and challenges and successes experienced.
Additional Resource: Interview and photo release form
I, (name of interviewee) ______________________________________, do hereby give to the interviewer, the interview conducted by (name of interviewer)
__________________________________________ on date(s) ____________________.
and the photograph(s) created by (name of photographer)
__________________________________________ on date(s) ____________________.
I understand that this material may be used in public presentations including but not limited to audio or video documentaries, internet publications, slide presentations, or exhibits. There are no restrictions on the use of the material or photos.
I understand that my full name will be used in all materials for this project, unless I indicate that I only want my first name used. I only want my first name used in this project (name of interviewee). __________________________________________
I understand that this gift does not preclude any use that I myself may want to make of the information in this material or photographs.
Signature of interviewee: ___________________________________________________
Mailing address: _________________________________________________________
State: ____________________ Zip code: ______________________________________
Telephone Number: _______________________________________________________
Email address: ___________________________________________________________
Lesson Title: Family Ties
Subject: Social Studies, Family Heritages, English Language Arts
Suggested Grade Levels: 2-3
Time Suggested: 1-2 class sessions
Written by Trinity Golden, Penn State Abington
Lesson Description: Students will explore racial and ethnic diversity between and within their own families by crafting colorful necklaces out of string. Each string will represent a family member, and students’ will tie all strings together in a circle big enough to go over their heads. Each string’s color will represent a specific race or ethnicity, and the length will show ages of family members. This activity will provide a visual representation of each student’s family, both in racial/ethnic composition and ages.
Connection to The Loving Project Podcast: A major characteristic of the couples and families in the podcast is racial and ethnic diversity. This feature shows up in the interracial marriages, as well as the biracial and multiracial children who are born into or become members of the family.
Objectives: This lesson will show the varieties of race/ethnicity and age that may be part of students’ families in the class. Through discussion, students will have the opportunity to especially appreciate racial diversity, and celebrate the uniqueness of each other’s family.
How can we celebrate racial and ethnic diversity in families without overemphasizing differences? Where is the balance between drawing attention to this diversity and promoting the idea that everyone is the same inside.
Materials Needed: String in various colors, scissors, paper, writing utensils.
- Students will describe what makes each of their individual families unique. Instructor will discuss different races/ethnicities and the fact that families can be multiracial/multiethnic. Students may be able to identify families they know that are composed of people of different races/ethnicities.
- Students will tie strings of different colors together to make necklaces, with each string representing a family member. Each string’s color will represent a specific race (for example: Black = green, African = turquoise, White = red, South Asian = purple, East Asian = blue, Multiracial= rainbow, etc.) and the length of each string will denote age (long = adult, short = child, medium = adolescent).
- Students will pair up with someone else who has a necklace with very different colors and lengths of string. Each member of the pair will share an answer to this question: “If people just saw how my family members looked on the outside, they would never know that ______.”
- Students will reconvene together and reflect on their experiences. The teacher will lead students in a discussion about what we can see and what we can’t see about a person’s race/ethnicity.
Outcome/Assessment: Students will write a short reflection paragraph about what they learned in this lesson regarding their own families and their fellow students’ families. They will also draw a picture of the necklace they made, and label each part of the necklace with the family member’s name it represents.
Special Education and English Language Learners Accommodations: ELL and students with special needs can have an aide write down what the child says for the reflection paragraph. They can also use a fill in the blank sheet to complete statements such as these: Being a part of my family is _____. This lesson taught me that ________. My favorite part of the lesson was ______.
Children’s books about multiracial families
Online lesson plans
The Loving Story Teaching Guide from Teaching Tolerance
LOVING V. VIRGINIA (1967) from the Bill of Rights Institute
Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle- The Loving Story. One of four mini films with lesson plans created by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)’s Bridging Cultures initiative. https://createdequal.neh.gov/for-teachers/equality-under-law/loving-story
Four life lessons to learn from the movie, Loving, from writer-director Jeff Nichols. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/loving-movie-lessons
Loving v. Virginia: An anniversary for interracial marriage from Morningside Center
The Loving Story. Teaching resources and discussion questions developed by The Virginia Film Festival
Loving Story Research Guide from the library of Lehman College
Loving vs. Virginia the Novel (Teacher Guide) by Patricia Hruby Powell. https://www.chroniclebooks.com/landing-pages/pdfs/loving_vs_virginia_teacher_guide.pdf
Loving v. Virginia– A Lesson Plan on Equal Protection
Resources for Teaching about the 50th Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia. Compiled by the Wisconsin Department of Public Education.
The Lessons from Loving v. Virginia Still Resonate 50 Years Later from the National Council for Social Studies https://www.socialstudies.org/publications/socialeducation/may-june2017/lessons-from-loving-v-virginia-still-resonate
Looking Back at the Landmark Case, Loving v. Virginia from the ACLU
before the stuWhat You Didn’t Know About Loving v. Virginia from TIME magazine
Our Family Wedding: Interracial Marriages- lesson to explore themes in interracial marriage after watching clips of the film Our Family Wedding. https://warmupsfollowups.blogspot.com/2011/07/our-family-wedding-interracial.html
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Lesson Plan- lesson based on the famous 1967 film that was a break-through movie and part of a national dialogue about race http://www.teachwithmovies.org/guides/guess-whos-coming-to-dinner.html
Podcasts, media clips, TV shows, movies, etc.
Multiracial Family Man Podcast
How one interracial couple learned to talk about race
What I am Learning from My White Grandchildren- Truths About Race by Anthony Peterson, TEDxAntioch
White Parents Who Raise Black Children (Clip)
The Loving Generation- 4 mini films about a generation of Americans born to one black parent and one white parent.
Edith+Eddie- a film about the country’s oldest interracial newlyweds.
We Talk to Interracial Couples 50 Years after Loving V. Virginia
What Happens when Interracial Couples Get Real about Stereotypes
Mixed Race Marriages in the South
- Mississippi Masala
- Harry and Meghan: A Royal Romance
- Something New
- The Big Sick
- Jungle Fever
- Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
- Lakeview Terrace
- Bend it Like Beckham
- Loving 2016 trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0G5o6QX-og
- 10 Movies Featuring Interracial Relationships that are Worth a Watch- http://unrealitymag.com/movies/10-movies-featuring-interracial-relationships-that-are-worth-a-watch/
- Interracial Romance: A List of Groundbreaking Movies- https://www.thoughtco.com/groundbreaking-interracial-romance-films-2834739
The Daily Show’s Jessica Jones and Ronny Chieng cover racial discrimination on dating apps in the clip Sexual Racism: When Preferences Become Discrimination. In the clip they find out from OK Cupid’s founder, Christian Rudder, that Black women and Asian men receive the fewest likes and messages across multiple dating platforms. http://www.cc.com/video-clips/ev2j0j/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-sexual-racism–when-preferences-become-discrimination
Season 1 Episode 10 of the Freeform show Grown-ish tackles issues of dating and race. The episode approaches some common double standards for individuals of different races when it comes to dating outside of their own racial group. https://freeform.go.com/shows/grown-ish/episodes/season-1/10-its-hard-out-here-for-a-pimp
The Fosters– a TV show about a same-sex, interracial couple raising 1 biological son, 2 adopted children, and 2 foster youth
Dear White People– a film and a show about Black students in a predominantly white college. Available on Netflix. Commentary about the show:
The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage (Age range 4-8)
70+ Picture Books about Mixed Race Families
Top Ten Children’s Books with Mixed Race Families
Children Books to Embrace Family Diversity
14 Children’s Books with Multiracial Families
Two Sisters Writing- a blog and resource for writing and publishing by sisters who grew up in a biracial family https://www.twosisterswriting.com/about-new/
The Veronica Series– books that chronicle the journey of young female whose peers are overly concerned with her father’s whiteness, her mother’s blackness, and her “entirely white” appearance.
A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo– John Oliver presents a children’s picture book about a white boy bunny who falls in love with a brown boy bunny.
Hey A.J. Series by former New England Patriot, Martellus Bennett.
Articles & books for adults
Same Family, Different Colors: Confronting Colorism in America’s Diverse Families
Commission for Social Justice Educators Resource Biracial & Multiracial
The First Interracial Children’s Book, 45 Years Later
I study biracial identity in America. Here’s why Meghan Markle is a big deal.
Is Marriage for White People?: How the African American Marriage Decline Affects Everyone
Questions of Color: How Texas couples navigate race, culture — and resistance
They married in 1968 as a nation fought for civil rights: 50 years later an interracial couple looks back
Leslie Uggams’ Amazing Love Story: How Her 53-Year Interracial Marriage Defied the Odds
Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case
The blurring of racial lines won’t save America. Why ‘racial fluidity’ is a con
I’m Raising a Biracial Daughter In Japan, Where She’s Surrounded By Blackface
What Biracial People Know
Talking About Martin Luther King, Jr. and Race With My Biracial Son
Raising a Child in Two Worlds
How white parents talk with their Black and biracial sons about race
We Are Not Unusual Anymore’: 50 Years of Mixed-Race Marriage in U.S.
“Is That Your Child?” Stories of White Moms of Biracial Kids
Organizations, networks, advocacy resources
Mixed Remixed Festival- a cultural arts festival celebrating stories of mixed-race and multiracial families and individuals through films, books and performance. http://www.mixedremixed.org/about-mixed-remixed/
Multiracial Media- a platform focusing on the multiracial perspective. http://multiracialmedia.com/
MAViN Foundation- builds healthier communities “by raising awareness about the experiences of mixed heritage people and families.” http://www.mavinfoundation.org/index.html
Swirl- a multiracial community committed to initiating and sustaining cross-racial, cross-cultural dialogue
Mixed Heritage Center
Multicultural Kid Blogs
Daily Strength- interracial, interreligious support group https://www.dailystrength.org/group/interracial-relationships
- Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race, and Identity-What Our Online Lives Tell Us about Our Offline Selves by OK Cupid creator, Christian Rudder.
- Interracial Dating Central- https://www.interracialdatingcentral.com/?&trkid=V3ADW126821_3412419731_kwd-37074510__124844473091_g_c__&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIqrLwsIvi2QIVnkwNCh1oowIEEAAYBCAAEgIrRfD_BwE
- Interracial Dating.com- https://www.interracialdating.com/
- Match- https://www.match.com/
- Mixed Single- http://www.mixedsingle.com/
- Interracial Cupid App- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cupidmedia.wrapper.interracialcupid&hl=en
Council for Relationships therapists that specialize in interracial relationships and diverse families
- Stephanie Jacobs, Ed.S., Ph.D., LMFT
- Akilah Pierre, MFT
- Michelle Jackson, MSS, LCSW