Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Racism and the Box
Lesson 2
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students will describe the role that racism plays in self-betrayal and self-deception. They will reflect on how historic racist actions led to the disintegration of society.


One Fifty-Five Minute Class Period


The learners will:
  • explain how racism leads to self-betrayal and self-deception.

  • analyze the effect of racism on society.


  • Self-Deception (Attachment One), project or make a handout for students.
  • Student copies of Racism and Self-Deception (Attachment Two)
  • Projected image of Bus Driver’s Self-Justifying Views (Attachment Three)
  • Reflecting on Racism and the Box (Attachment Four)
Handout 1
Handout 2
Racism and Self-Deception
Handout 3
Bus Driverís Self-Justifying Views
Handout 4
Reflecting on Racism and the Box

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Have two volunteers act out a situation where one person drops his/her pencil and the other person considers picking up the pencil but then does nothing. Discuss as a class:

  • how the person who did nothing might justify doing nothing, such as, how he/she might see himself/herself and how he/she might see the person who dropped the pencil.

  • how the person who dropped the pencil might react to the other person.

  • how feelings between the two might have been different if the second person picked up the pencil.

  • Present and discuss Self-Deception (Attachment One), given either with transparencies or as a handout for students.

  • Distribute Racism and Self-Deception (Attachment Two) and read through the instructions with the class. Allow students time to work on the handout alone. When students have filled in the chart, put students in groups of two or three and have them share and discuss their answers.

  • Display the overhead of Bus Driver’s Self-Justifying Views (Attachment Three). Have volunteers go to the overhead and write words and phrases from their handouts under the two columns. Discuss the words and phrases as a class. Ask students to analyze how the intolerance shown in the example contributed to society’s disintegration.

  • Distribute Reflecting on Racism and the Box (Attachment Four). Read the assignment with the students, take questions, allow time for writing the reflection paragraph and check progress.


  • Teacher observation of class work, discussion and interactive participation in order to measure understanding of concepts of self-betrayal, self-deception and racism.

  • Evaluation of written reflection using form and content grading rubric (Attachment Four).

School/Home Connection:

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    Have parent(s) read over finished paragraph and discuss with the student. Have students type the paragraph for homework.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

There are helpful news articles for further reading on the causes and effects of racism in the 21st century. Go to http://www.detnews.com. Go to Metro, then Special Reports. Check the ďSpecial Reports IndexĒ for Monday, June 16, 2003.

Bibliographical References:

Arbinger Institute. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box. The Arbinger Institute (Editor). San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2000. ISBN: 1576750949


Lesson Developed By:

Rachael Sanowski
L'Anse Creuse Public Schools
L'Anse Creuse High School
Harrison Township, MI 48045


Handout 1Print Handout 1


Self-Betrayal: An act contrary to what I feel I should do for another

Example of Self-Betrayal

When I betray myself, I begin to see the world in a way that justifies my self-betrayal. My view of reality becomes distorted.

How I start to see myself How I start to see the other person
Too cool to move Uncool
Loyal to my friends Antisocial
Worthy of friendship Unworthy of friendship

When I betray myself, I enter the box.

In the box, I am seeing people as objects. I am actively resisting what the humanity of others calls me to do for them.

By being in the box, I provoke others
to be in the box.

In the box, we invite mutual mistreatment and, in this way, give each other reasons to stay in the box.

Over time, certain boxes become characteristic of me, and I
carry them with me.

What does not work inside the box:

  1. Trying to change others
  2. Doing my best to ďcopeĒ with others
  3. Leaving (segregation, isolation)
  4. Communication
  5. Implementing new skills or techniques

The way out of the box:

Living Out of the Box

  1. Donít try to be perfect. Do try to do better.
  2. Donít look for othersí boxes. Do look for your own.
  3. Donít accuse others of being in the box.
    Do try to stay out of the box yourself.
  4. Donít give up on yourself when you discover youíve been in the box. Do keep trying.
  5. Donít deny youíve been in the box when you have been.
  6. Do apologize, and then just keep marching forward, trying to be more helpful to others in the future.

  7. Donít focus on what others are doing wrong. Do focus on what you can do right to help.

  8. Donít worry about whether others are helping you. Do worry whether you are helping others.

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Racism and Self-Deception


Directions: Using the situation given below, fill out the diagram. Then decide how self-betrayal changed the way the bus driver saw himself and how he saw the black passengers.

Setting: Montgomery, Alabama 1955 Scene: A bus driver is asked by an officer to move the color board further back. The bus driver feels that he should refuse this request, since that would mean that black passengers would have to stand unnecessarily. However, the bus driver betrays this feeling and does what the officer asks him to do.

Handout 3Print Handout 3

Bus Driverís Self-Justifying Views

Handout 4Print Handout 4

Reflecting on Racism and the Box


Discrimination: Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit
Prejudice: A negative opinion formed beforehand or without knowledge, or examination of the facts.
Racism: Discrimination or prejudice based on race.


Directions: Write a paragraph explaining how “being in the box” applies to racism. Use the definitions above and the questions below to guide your response.
  • If two races are “in the box” towards one another, how does each race’s view of reality become distorted?
  • Which “boxes” or racial prejudices do people often carry around with them?
  • What kind of mistreatment results from races being “in the box” towards one another?
  • What are the advantages of being “out of the box” towards people of other races?

Grading Rubric

Possible Score: 30 pts.

Format: One paragraph typed
Double-spaced, 12 pt. Font
Correct spelling and proper use of mechanics
Content: Depth of thought
Understanding of concepts (racism, the box)
Representation of both sides, both “boxes”


Philanthropy Framework:


Natasha, Teacher Ė Alvin, TX1/28/2011 12:02:31 PM

This is an excellent lesson plan. I plan to use it in my Spanish class in which we have a vocabulary section on this topic. I have been looking for a plan like this for a while.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Challenging Social Boundaries Summary


Power of Protest (The)
Racism and the Box
Getting Out of the Box
Power in Numbers
Mix It Up!

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