The history of formal education in the United States is wrought with issues of race, racism, access, assimilation, and the systematic silencing people of color's voices – and continues to privilege and elevate the intellectual traditions and experiences of European-Americans over those of other communities across the different disciplinary domains. This education has forcibly been imposed on Indian communities and simultaneously withheld from Black communities, creating dissonance between them where in fact deep commonalities lie. This project aims to move all people towards racial healing and just educational opportunities by addressing core constructs of formal education that perpetuate structural inequalities and oppression of Blacks and Indians.
In response, this project will serve to honor and elevate the voices and experiences of Blacks and Indians in the Chicagoland area starting from present and moving backwards in historic time to pre-European contact. Typically these stories and histories are told separately, yet the deep structural issues of race and racism developed simultaneously with both communities in the course of US history. By re-engaging youth, families and communities in the educational processes from new positions of power and agency, the project will create dialogues and place-based learning environments. Activities will include: building a digital archive of Native peoples’ experiences in the Chicago area, developing a community-based curricula that utilizes the archive, as well as ones that already exist for African American communities, in school and after-schools programs; and professional development initiatives with adult project participants, focused on structural racism and the new learning environment. Ultimately, this project will create deeper understandings of the ways in which race and racialization function in this country and how these issues are perceived, experienced and acted upon in the move towards racial equity.