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Un-Zombied and Magically Black: A Kaleidoscope of the African-American’s Supernatural World

This curriculum unit will examine African beliefs and practices regarding the spiritual realm and its heavy influence in the West Indies and the Americas following the African slave trade.  Many Hollywood and independent films have provided inaccuracies regarding African influenced religions such as Vodou and Santeria causing audiences to believe negative misrepresentations. Stereotypes of the African-American culture can have an inadvertent affect on the African-American child’s self-esteem, social practices and academic performance. The focus of this unit is to build the students emotionally and academically as they gain strong literacy and critical thinking skills. 

Un-Zombied and Magically Black combines two mediums: literature and film.  Students will be able to recognize the expository phase, protagonist and antagonist, plot and climax, foreshadowing and suspense in literature and films. Experts have found that film viewing can be beneficial for students when learning literacy analysis. Our classroom and teaching style must keep up with the expectations of our technology driven society and the interest of our students. Works of critically acclaimed authors Octavia Butler(Kindred) ,Virginia Hamilton (House of Dies Drear, Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush) and Toni Morrison (Beloved) will be read. Films including Candyman, Skeleton Key, Black Orpheus and Daughters of the Dust will be viewed (some partially, some full length). Within this unit, students will have the opportunity to analyze, face and correct stereotypes in creative and intriguing classroom activities. They will be writing film critiques, creating storyboards, and conducting literature circles. It is reported that millions of young African Americans are unable to comprehend or evaluate text, provide relevant details, or support inferences about the written information they read. I firmly believe the lack of motivation to be the breakdown in the classroom for the African American student. Education researchers say that African American students must increase the time they read for pleasure. If we as educators provide literature and films that recognize who the student is culturally, the emotional and intellectual needs of the child can be met. The outcome of this unit can be students with an overall improved attitude towards reading and higher success in the classroom.

Wendi Mungai Umoren
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