Discussing hatred toward immigrants and ways to reduce it

By Libby Hartigan, Managing Editor

A lesson plan to go with: “Fighting for respect” an article about the intolerance experienced by Korean immigrant Richard Kwon, published January-February 2001.

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: Language Arts, Social Studies
Suggested Time Allowance: 45 minutes-1 hour

Overview of Lesson Plan:
In this lesson, students will discuss hatred toward immigrants and explore how to recognize it, prevent it and stop it.

Students will:
• Discuss hatred toward immigrants, and what kinds of behaviors constitute prejudice.
• Explore attitudes toward people from other places, and analyze where these attitudes come from
• Discuss ways to avoid and reduce prejudice toward immigrants.

• copies of “Fighting for respect” (one per student)
• pens/pencils
• paper
• newsprint
• markers
• classroom chalkboard

Warm-up: In journals or on separate pieces of paper, students finish the sentence on the board: “Prejudice is…” Students should write five or 10 different endings to the sentence. The teacher then asks students to read some of their sentences, which the teacher writes on the board.

As a class, read “Fighting for respect.” Then discuss the article, addressing these questions:

1. What kinds of things happened to Richard that he didn’t like? Do his experiences fit the definitions of prejudice that the class created?

2. Why did Richard have problems? Was it because he’s from another country, because he’s Asian, or because his classmates were mean? Did Richard do anything to provoke the reactions he got? Was it his fault?

3. Richard describes his personality changing because of everything that happened to him. How did he change? Do you think the changes were understandable?

4. What was the long-term impact of Richard’s experiences on him? How do you feel about what happened to him?

Small group work: Divide students in small groups of about four. Each group receives newsprint and markers to record a discussion of the following questions written on the board: What are some of the things that immigrants do that bug us? The last time you had to deal with someone who didn’t speak English well, how did you react? The last time you had to deal with someone from another country, how did you react?
     Each group presents its newsprint to the class. The class is asked not to interrupt each presentation, but to ask respectful questions of the entire class only at the end of all presentations. How did this exercise make students feel?

Wrap-up/homework: Most people do not think of themselves as being prejudiced toward immigrants. Reflecting on the in-class discussion and the small-group exercise, write an essay describing your view of the status of immigrants in today’s society. How does your view conform to or differ from the attitudes you discussed in your small groups? How did you develop this view? What steps or actions should you take in order to ensure that you avoid being prejudiced toward immigrants?

Further Questions for Discussion:
• How do we try to change the attitudes of people who think it is all right to treat immigrants badly? Do such people recognize that they are treating immigrants poorly?
• How do we educate people, especially immigrants, about their rights?

Students will be evaluated on their participation in discussion and their individual written work.

Extension Activities:
• Research the history of anti-immigrant sentiment in California. Some starting places:

–Chinese immigrants who came to California at the end of the 1800s to build railroads and do other hard labor were referred to as the “Yellow Peril.”
–During World War II, Japanese-Americans were forced to leave their businesses and homes and live in internment camps.
–In the 1990s, the campaign for Prop. 187 led to a lot of anti-immigrant propaganda.

Recommended reading:
–Marger, Martin. 1997, Race and Ethnic Relations, 5th ed. Wadsworth.
–Mori, Barbara, ed., 1999 Stand! Race and Ethnicity, Coursewise, Madison, Wisconsin.