Call for Lesson Plans for Teaching Media Quarterly: Teaching #BlackLivesMatter: Media, Race, and Social Movements (Vol. 4, No. 1)

As seen on the National Communication Association E-mail list

From Heidi Zimmerman (zimme313 at umn dot edu)

Call for Lesson Plans for Teaching Media Quarterly: Teaching #BlackLivesMatter: Media, Race, and Social Movements (Vol. 4, No. 1)

Submission deadline: January 11, 2016

Black historical experiences are never past, but always permeating the present. The mediated Black Lives Matter movement can be seen as a fissure in the narrative of American exceptionalism demanding recognition of the current and historical dehumanization of Black bodies. In the seventeenth century, slaves transported to the American colonies endured torture, rape, and daily terror. Slave labor produced the wealth of the colonies and the United States, in both the South and the North. The Black Codes of the Reconstruction era, including the newly written vagrancy laws, imprisoned the unemployed into chain gangs, which in turn were sold to the highest bidder to work in agriculture and mining, and to rebuild the South (Blackmon 2008). In the era of Jim Crow, Black Americans endured the separate but equal doctrine, which provided them with substandard schools, healthcare, and housing, and required rigorous abiding by segregation laws (Massey & Denton 1993); failure to do so wa!
s met by state-sanctioned and Ku Klux Klan violence, rape, murder, and economic terrorism (Wells-Barnett 1892, 1895). The second half of the twentieth century saw urban renewal programs and white flight to the suburbs depleting the tax base of largely urban communities, the disappearance of industrial jobs, redlining in housing, gerrymandering of voting districts, broken windows policing, the militarization of the police, and the mass incarceration of Black, Latino, and Native American populations (Hirsch 1998; Freund 2007; Slater 2010; Sugrue 2014; Alexander 2010; Thompson 2010).

Media have been crucial in these historical developments. Whites have traditionally employed print, radio, and television media to justify state and extrajudicial violence against Blacks, to promote segregation and disenfranchisement, and recently to popularise narratives of personal responsibility removed from a historical understanding of structural white supremacy. Some scholars have examined narratives about the state of race relations and representations of Blacks and whites (Stabile 2006; Hill Collins 2000; Smith-Shomade 2002; hooks 2006). Others have researched how Blacks have taken control of the means of media production, and have employed the media to form counterpublics to communicate internally and to counter dominant white supremacist rhetoric (Heitner 2013; Savage 1999; Smith-Shomade 2007; Squires 2000, 2002, 2012; Morris 2015).

In this historical context of state, economic, and cultural violence, as well as the current epidemic of police brutality and the mass killings of Black and brown people in the United States, it is of utmost importance to cultivate teaching strategies that help undergraduate students develop critical tools for understanding the ways in which the media operate vis-à-vis social movements. Black Lives Matter is currently one of the most important social movements in the U.S. It links police brutality, mass incarceration, the dehumanization of Black and brown bodies to political and economic policies rooted in white supremacist thought. Participants in Black Lives Matter organizing, protests, and marches have repeatedly employed social media-Twitter in particular-to organize and coordinate. They have also used media to present Black experiences of state violence commonly dismissed by mainstream media. Participants in the Ferguson and the Baltimore Uprisings called out mainstream!
media for misrepresenting the protests, presenting socio-economic conditions in simplistic “thug” narratives, and for titillating audiences at home with footage of burning buildings and violence, whilst ignoring the actual grievances and daily experiences of Black Americans.

Although there are several online resources to teach about the Ferguson Uprising and Black Lives Matter designed for the High School curricula, we are looking for lesson plans for the undergraduate classroom that focus on the intersection of Black Lives Matter and the media, especially in relation but not limited to:

– Communication and organizing via social media platforms

– The political economy of Black Lives Matter

– Building social movements under neoliberalism

– #SayHerName and the visibility of Black women murdered by police

– Framing of Black Lives Matter in mainstream media and counter-framing by protesters

– Counterpublics and social movements

– Mediated racial discourses, discourses of colorblindness, and the politics of representation

– Historical perspectives on media representations of Black opposition to state violence

Teaching Media Quarterly Submission Guidelines

All submissions must include: 1) a title, 2) an overview (word limit: 500 words) 3) comprehensive rationale (using accessible language explain the purpose of the assignment(s), define key terms, and situate in relevant literature) (word limit: 500), 4) a general timeline, 5) a detailed lesson plan and assignment instructions, 6) teaching materials (handouts, rubrics, discussion prompts, viewing guides, etc.), 7) a full bibliography of readings, links, and/or media examples, and 8) a short biography (100-150 words).

Please email all submissions using the TMQ.Submission.Template (2) (.docx) in ONE Microsoft Word document to

Review Policy

Submissions will be reviewed by each member of the editorial board. Editors will make acceptance decisions based on their vision for the issue and an assessment of contributions. It is the goal of Teaching Media Quarterly to notify submitters of the editors’ decisions within two weeks of submission receipt.Teaching Media Quarterly is dedicated to circulating practical and timely approaches to media concepts and topics from a variety of disciplinary and methodological perspectives. Our goal is to promote collaborative exchange of undergraduate teaching resources between media educators at higher education institutions. As we hope for continuing discussions and exchange as well as contributions to Teaching Media Quarterly we encourage you to visit our website at