A lesson plan from the New York Times
Modeling Reality :
Examining Various Ways in Which Role Models Are Represented :
Based on the article : Two-Inch Latino Role Models, for Good or Ill, By JO NAPOLITANO,May 2, 2003
« In this lesson, students identify what a role model is and what characteristics such a person should possess. They discuss a new trend in character role model figurines, which some believe perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes, and debate issues surrounding the effectiveness of these role models. Finally, students each draw and describe a role model figurine that he or she feels reflects his or her value and belief systems. » [ This text is a bit too long, but presents this new cultural phenomenon of the Homies figurines and the problem of role model. Are those figures merely reflecting reality or are they pushing youngsters towards gangs and violence by offering a bad role model? From this starting point or without it, you can present this cultural fact to your pupils and discuss the problem with them. Here are some addresses that you can also use:
The official Homies site
Including the pictures and names of all the plastic figurines in the different families, and comic strips which give ideas of how to play with them….
Items for vending machines
Homies are found in vending machines. Discover on this site what type of items are to be found there.
Homies Figures from Cabinfever.com
A short page, in simple and easy English, showing who the Homies are, what Homies mean, and that they try to promote Chicano culture and not glorify gangs.
This magazine claims to provide « Daily news and commentary on the key issues related to urban affairs ». You will find there lots of information about the gangs, their indentification and their problems, including a history of gangs. This site can be a good resource for teachers or students who want to deal with this subject (it doesn’t promote gangs). At the moment, the Homies are present in all their pages with this title : « do they promote violence or gang stereotypes? »…..and you can also buy them from the site 😉 See how some figures appeared in a Snoop Dogg ( a famous rapper) video.
Read an article trying to show that those figures are not bad for children….
The real Homiesunidos
It « is a non-profit gang violence prevention and intervention organization with projects in San Salvador, El Salvador and Los Angeles, California » whose « vision is to see all youth living in a world free of violence and discrimination »
Audio clip and transcript
Here you can hear an audio clip about Magdaleno Rose Avila and Homies
Unidos, and read the transcript. An interesting interview about gangs and action to stop them.
Some celebrities offer themselves as role models:
The site features Christopher Reeve ( former Spiderman, now quadriplegic) as the role model of the month. An interesting story, even if it seems a little « too much »…. Another site stresses the fact that even role models are not perfect. Among the role models discussed are Nick Nolte and Bill Clinton, and problems with sex and drugs are also tackled, so this site is only for older, responsible students…
For older students too, this article about Snoop Dogg and children choosing this type of role model
Role Model, by Eminem : Like all Eminem songs, it is full of rude words and shocking images and I wouldn’t advise you to study it in class, but many of our pupils listen to that type of song, and Snoop Dogg, Marilyn Manson and Eminem are all conscious that they are accused of being negative role models and pushing kids towards violence and drugs. In this song, Eminem says:
« Follow Me And Do Exactly What The Song Says Smoke Weed Take Pills Drop Outta School Kill People And Drink And Jump Behind The Wheel Like It Was Still Legal »
download the midi file: