As we dive deeper into our study of The Civil Rights Movement, we thought we would take some time to talk about terminology. We believe that it is important for students to understand how the terms and labels society has created for different races may not always be respectful of that culture. As a class, we discussed the idea of impact versus intent. Just because you do not intend for something to be offensive or hurtful, doesn’t mean it won’t be taken that way. After a discussion of impact versus intent, students were given terms, both good and bad, used to address or identify a person of color. The students then sorted them according to if they thought they were appropriate or offensive. Afterwards, as a group, we discussed each term and explained why they were either good or bad terms. We then presented the students with a impact vs. intent stoplight where appropriate terms were placed in the green as “go” words and offensive terms were placed in the red as “stop” words. The yellow is for when students are unsure. In the event that they are unsure, we encourage them to slow down, ask questions, and really think about their words and their impact. We collaborated to create a Civil Rights Movement chant highlighting respectful terminology and how their impact is more important than their intent.

“What do we use? Go words!

When do we use them? Now!

What do we use? Go words!

Okay class show us how.

African-American and minority are two in the green,

Yellow, ask a question,

But red is just plain mean.

Civil Rights! Empowerment!

Civil Rights’ Empowerment!”