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DeWitt Students Explore Intersectionality in Spanish Class Through Afro-Latinidad Mini-Lessons

Theodora Baranowski’s DeWitt Middle School Spanish class
In Theodora Baranowski’s DeWitt Middle School Spanish class, students are learning more than a new language; throughout the month of February, Ms. Baranowski’s “el foco” for each day included a lesson in intersectionality, or the simultaneous experience of social categories such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. Each lesson featured a personal history of an Afro-Latino public figure - from artists and performers to scientists and physicians. The central questions of the unit included: What is the difference between race and ethnicity? What is the meaning of Afro-Latinidad?
Theodora Baranowski’s DeWitt Middle School Spanish class

Students explored the lives of Jean Michel Basquiat, Kid Kudi, Felipe Luciano, and many more. When the focus of the lesson was Afro-Panamanian and Mexican actress Tessa Thompson, Baranowski recounts one student who exclaimed, “me too!” 

“Several students who weren’t checked in at first are looking forward to the ‘el foco’ of the day because they see themselves in Afro-Latinidad figures,” Baranowski said. 

Baranowski’s work in centering the perspective of students of color in the curriculum design process is supported by Learning Forward ICSD, our district's approach to academic and social-emotional learning.