Writing About Systemic Racism: Prompt, Exemplars for DiAngelo's White Fragility

Grade Levels
11th - 12th, Higher Education, Staff
Formats Included
  • PDF
15 pages
Part of the Teach for Justice collection
This resource is part of a collection of educator-created, expert-vetted resources to help you create learning environments to support every student, challenge biases, and encourage discussions around race and social injustice. Explore the collection.


Everyone entering a conversation about race comes to it from a different place. We all have our own racial autobiography, and we are all on our own journeys toward understanding race as a system in which we are a part and in which we play a part. This assignment asks students to look at aspects of systemic racism in terms of their own experience.

The packet has several components that can be used in conjunction with one another or separately. An essay introduction and prompt, ready to send to students, invites students who have read White Fragility to write about how systemic racism shows up in their lives. If your class is studying systemic racism but is not reading White Fragility, you can easily adjust the prompt to meet your needs.

Five annotated sample essays, written for this assignment, establish expectations for the paper. The essays and annotations help students see what separates specific claims from vague ones, and what separates well-developed paragraphs from thin or unfocused ones BEFORE they write, so that the teacher receives a better set of papers. With the annotated samples, you will be teaching writing, not just assigning it. You can also save time grading and making comments by simply saying, “See comments in Sample 5.”

Also included in this packet is a description of texts and videos (links provided) that pair well with White Fragility and inspire students to think more deeply about systemic racism.

This product includes:

1. Goals, Objectives, and Note to Teachers for Using the Annotated Essays

2. Writing Prompt Ready to Send to Students

3. Annotated Sample 1: Solid, Tightly-Focused, Nicely-Developed, Clear Essay

4. Annotated Sample 2: Solid, Tightly-Focused, Nicely-Developed, Clear Essay

5. Annotated Sample 3: Solid, Tightly-Focused, Nicely-Developed, Clear Essay

6. Annotated Sample 4: Adequate—A Good Draft with Work to Do

7. Annotated Sample 5: Mediocre Paper Lacking Sustained Focus and Clarity

8. Description of Companion Videos and Texts for Study with White Fragility

Total Pages
15 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
3 days
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.


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