The Gardener
This lesson uses the metaphor of gardening to demonstrate the dynamics of various levels of racism.
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Pre-Meeting Prep

Download the following handout and make one copy for each student.
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Clear ample room on your board for drawing for four large concentric circles (labeled internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural) This can be used to help students visualize the multidimensional system within the skit and also racism.
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Instructions

Ask students to volunteer to read the following roles in this skit:

Characters:
Narrator
Gardener
Pink flowers
Red flowers

Discussion Questions

The skit is a metaphor for the way the system of racism works. Below are questions to pose about how this story can help us understand the different dimensions of racism as a system. If you drew the concentric circle diagram, use this to help students visualize and keep track of their responses. Also be prepared to use additional metaphors and synonyms to ensure students understand the terminology.
  • (Internalized racism) How did the pink flowers view themselves? What did they say to the bee? Why did they not want the pink pollen? How do you think the red flowers viewed themselves?

  • (Interpersonal racism) How did the gardener treat the red flowers differently than the pink flowers?



  • (Institutional racism) What was the soil like inside each flower box? How did this affect the flowers ability to grow?



  • (Structural racism) The gardener built two boxes. How did the separation of the soil influence the different experiences of the red and pink flowers?

  • How might the same dynamics be playing out in our society with regards to race?
  • For each of the four dimensions (internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and structural), what could we do to change the situation and change how the flowers might grow and blossom?

    Go through each level one by one. Ask the students to identify solutions. If they need some assistance, suggest the following ideas:
(Internalized racism) We could go talk to the pink flowers and say, “Pink is beautiful! Power to the pink!” This might make the pink flowers feel better, but will this change the conditions in which they live?

(Interpersonal racism) We could go talk to the gardener and ask the gardener to not cut down the pink flowers. Will doing this create a lot of change in the lives of the pink and red flowers?

(Institutional racism) We could mix some rich soil into the pink box until it is as rich as the red flowers soil. How might this affect the lives of the pink and red flowers?


(Structural racism) We could break down the separate boxes and mix up all of the soil. How might this affect the lives of the pink and red flowers? How will doing this affect the other three dimensions of racism?






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