Teaching “White Lies” by Tara Betts

This lesson was created by Brian Hannon, who is the Director of Education at LMSvoice, and teaches at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Virginia.

Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit (Trio House Press, 2016) and the chapbook 7 x 7: kwansabas (Backbone Press, 2015). She is the Poetry Editor at The Langston Hughes Review and Founder of WhirlwindCenter. Betts is Poet for the People practitioner fellow at The University of Chicago’s Pozen Family Center for Human Rights & CSRPC.

Read Betts’ poem “White Lies” here.

In this lesson, students will:

  • Watch a video
  • Have a discussion
  • Read a poem
  • Brainstorm
  • Write a poem
  • Share out

Links you will need:

A note on this poem by the poet:

“I’d say the poem was also inspired, in part,

by Malcolm X’s speech “Chickens Coming Home to Roost.”


More about the creator of this lesson:

Brian Hannon is the Director of Education at LMSvoice. He currently teaches AP Literature and Composition, AP Language and Composition, and Team-Taught English 11 at Hayfield Secondary School in Alexandria, Virginia. Brian was the co-founder of the poetryN.O.W., a non-profit organization that partnered with schools in the area to provide educators with the materials and resources necessary to cultivate spoken-word poetry clubs in their schools. Through his involvement with this organization, Brian went on to found the two largest youth poetry events in the area, the Hyper Bole and Louder than a Bomb, events that brought students together from all walks of life from Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Massachusetts, etc. to participate in poetry competitions, open-mics, writing workshops, and more. When poetryN.O.W. was absorbed by Split This Rock, a non-profit organization in Washington D.C. that meets at the intersection of poetry and social justice, Brian moved on to serve as their “Youth and Education Development Fellow” where he continued to work in the planning and coordination of their after-school programs, open-mics, and larger events. In his current role as Director of Education of LMSvoice, he oversees and curates the curriculum, ultimately striving to showcase and teach the works of culturally relevant, socially-engaged artists and expose students and teachers to a wide spectrum of diverse voices.

He also works part-time for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and as a Muay Thai instructor. In 2018, Brian was a finalist for Fairfax County Public Schools Teacher of the Year and was his conference’s Coach of the Year for Hayfield’s Varsity Tennis Team.

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