Dismantling Internalized Anti-Black Racism in Shakespearean Literature Instruction

Angela Walker, English, West Charlotte High

Curriculum Unit (PDF)


This unit focuses on dismantling internalized anti-Black racism as a goal of antiracist literature instruction in a predominately Black public high school setting. As a subliminal system that rewards or penalizes people of color for their complicity to racist ideas, policies, and practices, internalized racism persists as a form of structural oppression that is present in the classroom among Black students and Black teachers alike. Therefore, the goal of this unit is three-fold. First, the unit provides tools and resources for Black teachers to vigorously uncover, eradicate, and subvert detrimental, racist ideas they have subconsciously accepted and propagated in English literature instruction. Second, the unit aims to foster students’ critical engagement regarding notions of race, racism, and antiracism through providing safe spaces for dialogic exchange and storytelling. Using Shakespeare’s Othello as the guiding text, students will analyze themes of racial stereotype and assumption through the Critical Race Theory (CRT) framework of intersectionality, exploring further the varied ways that internalized anti-Black racism has affected their perception of literature and their worldview in general. They will apply tenets explored to the construction of their own stories through the genre of their choosing. In applying a narrative approach to antiracist pedagogy, the unit fulfills the third goal: to expand students’ perception of literature from that of white men’s writings to a more inclusive vision of literature as stories that reflect those disparities within the human experience that are to be challenged and transformed.