From Louis Armstrong to the N.F.L.: Ungrateful As The New Uppity

From Louis Armstrong to the N.F.L: Ungrateful As the New Uppity by Jelani Cobb

Jelani Cobb gives historical context and insight into the mindsets of those who exhibit "scorn and contempt" for black people, but black men in particular. He illuminates the fact that for many Americans, freedom and patriotism are selective and conditional. If you are black...a black athlete or entertainer in this case, your protest must be acceptable to  certain people....certain white people.  Coded language, and insisting on "acceptable" kinds of protest, is just new packaging for old bias/racism. 

Grade Level - 8-12

Rings of Culture Represented

Ethnic: black/whiteness
Age: various
Gender: various
National: USA
Socio-Economic: Various
Religious: Various

Why It's VABBulous

  • This article is relevant and rigorous in subject matter, vocabulary and instructional opportunity.

  • It gives a historical perspective and context for what is going on in America today.

  • Applicable to many rings of culture but also delves deep into the Iceberg Concept of Culture on many levels because it deals with a national pastime, football which has implications for many different groups on many levels. Including but not limited to:

    • Surface - food, games, dress, celebrations, language

    • Shallow - courtesy, rules of conduct, contextual conversational patterns, body language, patterns of handling emotions, notions of leadership

    • Deep Culture - patterns of group decision making, concept of self, concept of past and future, problem solving roles.

CLR Instructional Ideas -

Set It Off (Into Text)

1. Thinking on Your Feet

Prompts for Thinking on Your Feet

  • Every American has the right to protest/freedom of speech.

  • Freedom is conditional for people of color.

  • There is a right way to protest and a wrong way to protest.

  • People can disagree with one another and still respect each other.

  • Athletes do not have a right to protest/freedom of speech.

  • Athletes can exercise free speech if they do it in a way that doesn't make people upset or uncomfortable.

  • Black athletes should be grateful they have a job.

  • Marginalized people/groups should be grateful when they get what they need.

  • Certain words and reactions to black people's protest indicate bias/racism.

2. Vocabulary Context Clues, Round Robin

1. If students are not already in groups, put them in groups of 5.
2. Give each student one of the  sentence strips containing a vocabulary word from the article. (See below)
3. One student reads their sentence strip aloud to the group.
4. Group brainstorms synonyms for the underlined vocabulary word, while reader writes them down.
5. Repeat until each student has had a turn. (Approximately 5 minutes)

3. Shout Out

After each group has completed the round robin brainstorm for each word(approx. 5 min.) Bring the class back to whole group for Shout Out.

For each vocabulary word, have students Shout Out their guesses, while recording them on the board.  Circle/highlight the ones that are "twin" synonyms for the underlined word.

4. Personal Thesaurus

Have students complete a Personal Thesaurus entry for each underlined word.

Sample Context Clue Sentences
These are just 5 sample words/sentences from the article. There are many words that can/may need to be studied.
In addition, this sample activity is simply for synonym development, further study of  "coded words", connotation/denotation is necessary for content of lesson.

  • The student's nascent protest for an LGBTQ friendly prom quickly turned into a campus wide movement.

  • When my mom told us of our holiday plans to visit our relatives, her look told me that she didn't want any dissent about her decision.

  • I had let my best friend's lunacy get me in trouble for the last time. I was not going along with any more of his silly ideas.

  • After our teams 5th loss, our coach became truculent, instead of supportive and his bad-tempered treatment brought team morale down even more.

  • The more affluent students at our school never make those of us with less money feel inferior in any way. I appreciate their humility.

What ways can you continue the VABB through and beyond the text?

  • Responsive Read Alouds?

  • Responsive Discussion ?

  • Responsive Literacy?



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