Our hearts ache from the violence that has taken place this month. The shooting deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, five police officers in Dallas and three police officers in Baton Rouge fill families, friends, communities, and a country with deep sorrow.
It’s almost impossible to make sense of this violence but in these tragedies, it’s clear that fear, racism against Black Americans, the police, and guns played important roles.
However, any understanding or solution begins with education. Education can profoundly change belief systems, shift perceptions, and reduce ignorance and hate.
With the hope of gaining knowledge to enact positive change, here are some resources that offer some understanding of underlying causes surrounding these horrific events, and perhaps ways we can better communicate and connect with each other for the better.
Understanding current events
21H.319 Race, Crime, and Citizenship in American Law – The readings of this course offer insight into the key issues in the historical development and current state of modern American criminal justice, with an emphasis on its relationship to citizenship, nationhood, and race/ethnicity.
24.236 Topics in Social Theory and Practice: Race and Racism – lecture notes delve into the questions “How should we understand racial injustice? Does racial injustice continue to exist? If so, what steps might legitimately be taken to end it?”
24.02 Moral Problems and the Good Life – the Racism, sexism and speech section surface questions about the the cultural and economic structures that may reinforce sexism and racism.
17.922 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. IAP Design Seminar – students develop in-depth understanding of the history of US racial issues as well as past and present domestic and international political struggles.
21M.630J Black Matters: Introduction to Black Studies – explores the experiences of people of African descent through the overlapping approaches of history, literature, anthropology, legal studies, media studies, performance, linguistics, and creative writing. The course also has a good reading list.
Black Lives Matter – an online forum intended to build connections between Black people and Black allies to fight anti-Black racism, to spark dialogue among Black people, and to facilitate the types of connections necessary to encourage social action and engagement.
I, Racist – text from a sermon that John Metta, a Black writer and poet, gave as a congregational reflection to an all White audience.
Changing the world and yourself for the better
CMS.615 Games for Social Change – workshop to design and prototype games for social change and civic engagement.
Letter from President Reif to the MIT community – reflecting on the importance of “leading civic institutions have a responsibility to speak clearly against these corrosive forces and to act practically to inspire and create positive change.”
17.905 Forms of Political Participation: Old and New – examines the associations and networks that connect us to one another and structure our social and political interactions.
CMS.361 Networked Social Movements: Media & Mobilization – a seminar that examines the relationship between social movements and the media and how resources and awareness can be mobilized.
11.948 Power of Place: Media Technology, Youth, and City Design and Development – workshop that explores the potential of information technology and the Internet to transform public education, city design, and community development in inner-city neighborhoods.
21G.019 Communicating Across Cultures – course that helps you become more sensitive to intercultural communication differences, and to provide you with the knowledge and skills that will help you interact successfully with people from cultures other than your own.
The Science of Happiness – an edX course that focuses on how happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social connections and contributing to something bigger than yourself—the greater good.
Social Work Practice: Advocating Social Justice and Change – an edX course that helps you learn the values, techniques, and themes social workers use to help others as well as strategies for addressing social justice challenges.
[Updated July 20 after police officers killed in Baton Rouge LA]