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Identity and Marginalization: An Exploration in Germantown   Tags: urban studies  

students explore ideas of identity and marginalization, with a focus on some of the ways these concepts are related to race, using the history of race relations in Germantown as a lens
Last Updated: Jul 22, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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What is your identity? How does it affect you?

Description: Students will explore their own identities through a few activities and then discuss ways in which identity can be connected to marginalization.

a. To introduce the activity, the instructor can call on two or three students to describe themselves, pointing out that the different descriptors they use are part of what makes up their identities. The instructor may point out that people's identities are often made up of three things: the groups they are a part of (e.g. student, American, Jewish, etc), the personal relationships that are important to them (e.g. sister, friend, etc), and the characteristics that they have (e.g. funny, athletic, kind, etc.)

b. For the next activity, the instructor will call out certain identity items and students will move to one or the other side of the room based on whether or not they feel that that identity item impacts their daily life. For instance, the instructor may say, “religion”, “gender”, “race”, “whether or not you have any sibilings/if you are an older or younger sibiling”,“personality”, or “physical appearance”. For example, if “religion” was called, a student who thinks that his or her religious identification has a great impact on his or her daily life should move to one side of the room, while a student who thinks that his or her religious identification does not impact them greatly would move to the other.

c. After this activity, have students reflect.

   i. Was it ever hard to decide where to stand? Why?

   ii. What were some of the things that impacted your daily life? How do these things impact your daily life? Why do these things impact your daily life?

d. The instructor can then introduce students to the idea that one of the many ways identity can impact your daily life is in the way people treat you based on your identity.

e. The instructor can then introduce the following spectrum:


      -The instructor should give a brief description of each item and then lead a discussion with students of examples of each item -both that discussion participants have experienced themselves and that they have read about in class.

         >For example, over the course of this unit an example of profiling would be shown in the bike theft video, discrimination could be illustrated by discussions of underrepresentation in media and history as well as in housing discrimination, while slavery could be presented as a form of violence against a group of people.

      -Discuss how each item of the spectrum relates to the others.

      -Introduce the concept of “marginalization” and relate it to the spectrum.

      -Watch “What Would You Do? Bike Theft (White Guy, Black Guy, Pretty Girl)” and discuss:



"ACES Museum." Historic Germantown, Web. 7 Feb. 2014. <>.

 Anderson, Elizabeth , and Jeffrey Jones. "Causes of Housing Segregation." University of Michigan, 26 Sept. 2002. Web. 8 Feb. 2014. <>.

Baird-Remba, Rebecca, and Gus Lubin. "21 Maps Of Highly Segregated Cities in America." Business Insider, 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 8 Mar. 2014. <>.

Brown, Korey Bowers. "Carter G. Woodson." Association for the Study of African American Life and History, n.d. Web. 3 Feb. 2014. <>.

Dow, Supreme D.. "A Word From the Founder." Black Writers Museum, Web. 10 Feb. 2014. <>.

Dyson, Omari L. "The life and work of the Philadelphia Black Panthers: The curricular and pedagogical implications of their social transformation efforts." (2008).

"Extra!: Civil Rights Timeline." CNN, 21 Feb. 2007. Web. 6 Feb. 2014. <>.

Ferman, Barbara, Theresa Singleton, and Don DeMarco. "Chapter 3: West Mount Airy, Philadelphia."Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Reseach. 1998. 4: 29-59. Web. 6 Feb. 2014.

"Germantown Mennonite Historic Trust." Historic Germantown, Web. 7 Feb. 2014. <>.

Glass, Ira. "This American Life: 512: House Rules." National Public Radio, 22 Nov. 2013. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. <>.

Perkiss, Abigail. "Northwest Philadelphia."Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Rutgers University, 2013. Web. 26 May 2014. <>.

Pickeral, Dennis S., Anne Burnett, Kaelyn Taylor, and Liz Gavrys. History Hunters Youth Reporter Program: Student Workbook. Philadelphia, PA: The National Society of The Colonial Dames of America in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 2012. Print.

"redlining": The American Heritage College Dictionary. Boston : 1997

Rothman, Lily. "Give All the Awards to Lupita Nyong'o for Her Inspirational Speech About Beauty." Time, 28 Feb. 2014. Web. 18 May 2014. <>.

"What Would You Do? Bike Theft (White Guy, Black Guy, Pretty Girl)." ABC, 27 May 2010. Web. 10 May 2014. <>.

Wolfinger, James. "African American Migration." Rutgers University, 1 Jan. 2013. Web. 5 Feb. 2014. <>.

Young, David W.. "Historic Germantown: New Knowledge in a Very Old Neighborhood." University of Pennsylvania Press, 1 Jan. 2009. Web. 6 Feb. 2014. <>.

"Young Women's Christian Association of Philadelphia (Pa.), Germantown Branch Records." Temple University Library. Special Collections Research Center. Urban Archives, 1785-1982. Web. 5 Feb. 2014. <>.


Black History Month: Representation and History

Description: Students will explore the ideas of representation and shared history as they relate to identity and marginalization through the example of Black History Month.

a. Using the powerpoint presentation (see Materials) the instructor will lead students in a review of the different components of identity, the origins of Black History Month, and the relevance of Black History Month to identity.

b. The instructor can help students frame this discussion with a brief review of the profiling>discrimination>violence spectrum. Students should reflect on where underrepresentation of certain groups in history falls on the spectrum and the possible consequences of this. How does underrepresentation marginalize?


a. Black History Month powerpoint presentation

b. Lupita Nyong'o talks about beauty and representation at Essence's Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon: black-beauty/


Redlining in Germantown: Discrimination Then and Now

Description: The instructor will give students some information about redlining and how it has existed in our community historically as well as its impact today.

a. Using the powerpoint presentation, the instructor will offer an explanation of redlining and examples of redlining in Philadelphia including integration in Mt. Airy and maps showing racial distribution of Philadelphia today.

b. The instructor will then lead students in a discussion of possible reasons for the continuation of segregation that seems to exist in Philadelphia as shown by the maps.

c. Students and instructor should also connect this discussion to the profiling>discrimination>violence spectrum.

d. For homework, students should listen to sections of This American Life “House Rules” episode and answer questions in a reading guide -next class should include a follow up discussion on the radio piece


a. Black History Month powerpoint presentation

b. clip of This American Life “House Rules” episode (from about 4:50min-14min, pg 2-6 of transcript):

c. Reading guide for This American Life "House Rules" episode

d. Business Insider maps (also in powerpoint presentation): op=1

e. this chart on causes of housing segregation may also be useful:


Resources for Further Exploration

a. various studies showing philadelphia separate and unequal:

      i. Persistant residential segregation:

      ii. Discussion of the research in city paper: Segregation-New-studies-show-Philly-has-nations-most-separate-and-unequal-schools- neighborhoods-Chicago-New-York-Cleveland-Detroit-close-behind-8408

b. redlining in Philadelphia:

c. race as social construct:

      i. (the power of an illusion)

d. racial profiling:

      i. profiling

      ii. Feagin, Joe R. "The continuing significance of race: Antiblack discrimination in public places."American Sociological Review (1991): 101-116.

e. representation of race in media:

      i. on-network-tv/article_176e71e8-22ce-11e2-8e38-0019bb30f31a.html

      ii. study about racial minorities in prime time television:

f. racial identity:

      i. Race Card Project: descriptions of racial identity/experiences:

      ii. Being Black in Philly: opinion/Being-Black- its-not-the-skin-color.html

g. race and political/social movement: Civil Rights and Black Power Movements:

      i. Bayard Rustin & Malcolm X: integration vs separation:

      ii. Bayard Rustin: equality-lgbt-activism-in-greater-philadelphia/the-activism-and-legacy-of-bayard-rustin/

      iii. Huey Newton:

      iv. Black Panthers



         >       >

      v. West, Cornel. The Black Panther Party: service to the people programs. Ed. David Hilliard. UNMPress. com, 2010.

      vi. Dyson, Omari L. "The life and work of the Philadelphia Black Panthers: The curricular and pedagogical implications of their social transformation efforts." (2008).

      vii. King, Casey, and Linda Barrett Osborne. Oh, Freedom: Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement with the People Who Made it Happen. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. Print.

h. gender, identity, marginalization

      i. women in Philadelphia history, general :


Visit to Johnson House: Exploring History and Identifying Marginalization

Description: Students and instructor may visit Johnson House-a historic stop on the Underground Railroad in Germantown-and receive a tour of the house from a staff member.

a. The instructor may lead a follow-up discussion revolving around the following points:

   i. Why did abolition happen? Who was involved?

   ii. How is Johnson House related to Black History Month?

   iii. How does Johnson House represent marginalization? Where does it fall on the profiling>discrimination>violence spectrum?

   iv. What does it mean for us that this place exists in our community?

b. The instructor may also lead an activity identifying other sites and events relevant to African-American history in Germantown to help give students more context. (see “Important Sites in Germantown” map, in Black History Month powerpoint presentation, as well as presentation notes)


a.various materials compiled by Historic Germantown in their History Hunters workbook could be used:

b. “Important Sites in Germantown” map-in Black History Month powerpoint presentation

c. notes from Black History Month powerpoint presentation


Community Contacts



Contact Person



Historic Johnson House

6306 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19144

Johnson House contact: Loree Schuster

(215) 438 1768

Historic Germantown contact: Ashley Gumtow-Programs and Communications Coordinator


(215) 844 1683

History Hunters contact: Kaelyn Taylor (Stenton House Program Coordinator)


(215) 329 7312

Black Writer's Museum

Vernon House (in Vernon Park)
5800 Germantown Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19144

Founder: Supreme Divine-Dow


(267) 297 3078

>also see “Important Sites in Germantown” map in powerpoint presentation for more sites 


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