Owed to the Durag

by Joshua Bennett

Photo by Rog Walker

Writing Workshop

Workshop Title: Microagressions

Step 1

Have your students watch the embedded video. Then have them discuss the content and how they have been witness to such behavior.

Step 2

Read “Owed to the Durag” by Joshua Bennett and discuss the microaggressions he recounts.

Step 3

Have your students jot down a list of times in which they have been subject to such behavior. Make sure that they write down how they felt in response to such treatment.

Step 4

Tell your students to write a poem in which they discuss the microaggressions they have either endured or been witness to. Give them 15 minutes.

Step 5

When the students are done, have them share their responses with one another.

The full presentation may be found HERE.

Analytical Lesson

Area of Focus: Selection of Detail

Step 1

If your students are not familiar with the concept of “selection of detail,” review the introductory lesson.

Step 2

Have your students get in small groups and distribute the poem “Owed to the Durag.” Simply have them read the poem, paying close attention to the speaker’s feelings about the durag and the select details in the poem that contribute to his feelings.

Step 3

Pass out a piece of newsprint and have them jot down the most important details from the poem that contribute to the speaker’s message. Then have each group share one of those insights with the rest of the class.

Step 4

Tell your students that they’ll be competing against one another in a “digital breakout room.” They’re going to be given a series of questions that pertain to the poet’s utilization of select details and how they contribute to the poem. The first group to get all answers correct wins!

*The Google Form can be found here, but you’ll have to give them the student “version” of it after you make the copy.

Step 5

If time permits, share the exemplar essay with them.

Lesson Details

Lesson Info


  • Selection of Detail


  • Aging
  • Children / Youth
  • Community / Culture
  • Race / Ethnicity / Racism

Literary Tags

  • Diction
  • Figurative Language
  • Selection of Detail
  • Tone