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Reel Diversity

A Teacher’s Sourcebook – Revised Edition


Brian C. Johnson and Sykra C. Blanchard

The first edition of Reel Diversity: A Teacher’s Sourcebook won the 2009 Phillip C. Chinn Book Award of the National Association for Multicultural Education. This revised edition is an updated resource guide for educators in secondary and university classrooms who desire to integrate mainstream and independent films into their instructional content about diversity and social justice. The book has transformed difficult dialogues in classrooms around the country by helping educators identify full-length films and shorter film clips to enhance, energize, and motivate student learning.
Accessible and practical for both novice and advanced educators, the book provides a lexicon of twenty-five definitions that teachers and learners should understand about difference, awareness, and power. Assignments, classroom activities, and lecture notes highlight these definitions in ways that deeply impact students’ multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills. Reel Diversity invites cross-cultural dialogue about films’ mixed messages and how they enforce and reinforce cultural values. Students will emerge with a greater understanding of the educational value of this entertainment medium. The book is perfect for courses in mass media, film studies, American studies, mass communication, and media literacy.
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1. Guidelines for Teaching Diversity Guidelines for Teaching Diversity


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Ortiz and Rhoads (2000) created a multicultural education framework that insists that those “learning” diversity become astute in understanding culture (self and others), deconstructing white culture, and developing a multicultural outlook that leads to an action orientation. Becoming a critical “reader” of movie texts is an important task in both understanding American culture and being able to educate students about diversity concepts.

Film Clip

Higher Learning

Elapsed time: This scene begins at 00:16:35 and ends at 00:17:05

Fudge (Ice Cube) is pointing out the “diversity” of the campus which can be described as enclaves of disparate groups. He starts with: “Let’s take a trip around the world. Look there, under the statue. You see them [white] people? That’s Disneyland. There’s Chinatown. And over there, that’s south of the border. And this right here is the black hole—’cause we black folks.”

Diversity has for a very long time been focused on the subject of race. Ask an educator or student what the percentage of diversity in their class or in their school is and most of them will begin counting the numbers of black and brown faces that they have seen. Whites, then, are left out of the conversation, and are free to withdraw or point the finger at others. Diversity has been posited as an “us versus them” phenomenon and engaging with racial diversity then becomes a “minority” issue. (The same...

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