Racism and the Box

9, 10, 11, 12

Students will describe the role that racism plays in self-betrayal and self-deception. They will reflect on how historic racist actions contributed  to racial discrimination and strife in American society.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Class Period or shorter

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)
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: Have parent(s) read over finished reflection paragraph and discuss with the student. 


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



  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask students to think about a time when they failed to act in the way they knew they should have with regard to helping or demonstrating kindness toward another person.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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 racial discrimination and strife.

  5. 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).

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give examples from history of how intolerance of ideas, religion, and minorities contributed to social disintegration.