I think that the teaching of racism and discrimination along with the crimes that have resulted from it is extremely powerful. It is needed. Many students view the issue of race vastly different than it has been viewed in the past. The need to raise these discussion points is of vital importance. At the same time, I think that much of how this progresses depends on several variables. The community in which one teaches, the comfort level of the teacher, the age of the students, as well as the overall climate of the classroom is of critical importance. In teaching about the slave trade and other topics related to the distribution of power, I think that there has to be some combination of direct instruction and student inquiry in order to maximize the most of student comprehension.
I think that there is very little point in trying to address these things today. I do not see what is to be gained.
What I am thinking is that there is no way to make up for the bad thing that were done so far in the past. Therefore, there is little point in focusing on them.
I think that it is important for us to understand that racism happened. I think this is necessary so we realize that "we" are not always the good guys -- that we have done bad things and are presumably still capable of doing such things again.
Let me put it this way: my ancestors' (one side) country, the Philippines, was invaded by the US and a freedom movement was brutally suppressed. But I do not feel the need for the US to apologize. It won't help anything now. Similarly, the Japanese brutally oppressed Filipinos (including my father) during WWII. But what is to be gained by being angry about it now.
All we can do is look to the future and all do our best to treat each other fairly.
We need to use the racism of the past as a point of learning, an opportunity to analyze our own bias, and with great respect.
As you approach such an essay, the lastest election proves that we have come full circle. We have committed a great atrocity as a nation by allowing slavery for a period of time, however a great by-product that has come of it is that many African-Americans have escaped genocide and/or the AIDS epidemic.
We need to forgive the sin of the past and accept the positive that has come of it. We need to learn and teach our children through books like To Kill a Mockingbird that judgement, bias, and prejudice are wrong. Tolerance for ethnicity is necessary and a moral value that must be taught, that doesn't mean everyone must have the same cultural activity or expression.
We need to respect decendents of the slave trade and segregated schools by continuing to teach future generations about their sufferings and prevent suffering based on race from happening in the future.