Critical Visual Literacy: Advertising and White Beauty Standards

Contextual Lesson Design: Teaching Colorism and Media Analysis

When I taught a student population of mostly White, middle-to-upper class learners, I often heard students use past-tense verbs when discussing concepts like White supremacy and racial oppression. The racism-is-in-the-past ideology that many White students held made the few Students of Color in the class feel uncomfortable discussing their current experiences of racism and describing their connections to texts. As a supplement to a Socratic seminar focused on the themes in Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, I designed this critical visual literacy lesson to highlight how the beauty advertising industry perpetuates White supremacy today.

Instructional Strategy- Critical Visual Literacy

The lesson anchors Morrison’s text to a relevant, essential question- “How does the advertising industry reinforce White supremacy?”- and takes students through a three-step protocol for critically analyzing visual texts.