Stop Whitewashing Black History Month

Feb 15, 2019 12:00:00 AM


Calling teachers Klansmen is a strong statement. But, it’s not far off. With all of the teaching certifications and professional development, diversity and inclusion trainings, and Black history month celebrations that they see every February, some White teachers are insensitive to and can’t get our history right. Or, they just don’t want to. They’d rather infuse our Black kids’ spirits with feelings of inferiority, self-hatred and doubt—in addition to filling their minds with lies about our history, leaders and ancestors. Like this teacher who told her students that Dr. Martin Luther King committed suicide.   Now, you could’ve been living under a rock your entire life but the first things you’ll learn once you crawl out is, you have to pay taxes and MLK was assassinated. And she didn’t stop there. She also said anyone who doesn’t love Trump isn’t a real Christian and that the Black boys in the class were destined to go to prison because of the clothes they were wearing.   Then there were these teachers in New York who thought it would be funny to display images of nooses in their classrooms and call them “back to school necklaces.” Are you kidding me?! The school district in Long Island claims to have taken appropriate action, but all the teachers received was a vacation in the form of paid administrative leave. Listen, I don’t know who Principal Victor Tam is but these ignorant teachers need to take a page out of his lesson plans instead of following a hateful MAGA playbook.   As a matter of fact, I bet you it’s idiotic teachers like these that have Ralph Northam thinking Africans came to America as indentured servants. Like they came voluntarily on the promise of employment, union contracts and free land.   And real quick Ralph, if you truly believe our ancestors came over here for the aforementioned benefits, it’s 2019 and we still haven’t gotten out 40 acres and a mule. Work that out.   But meanwhile, some people on Twitter think this is a joke.   Well guess what? Black people ain’t laughin’ at all! Not when some of our kids have to attend schools named after Confederate leaders who fought a war to keep our ancestors enslaved. Certainly not when our kids are taught a very whitewashed history of Black people in America. And I’m calling these people Klansmen because teaching our kids to question and hate who they are while simultaneously denying them access to a quality education and feeding them into the school-to-prison pipeline is the equivalent of stringing them up with a noose. They’re murdering their culture, existence and potential while also perpetuating slavery— institutionalized slavery. But thank God we have people combating this foolishness. There are teachers around the country who are expressing how beautiful their Black is by decorating their classrooms with Black art because our kids need to see positive images and representation of themselves.   For Black history month, some educators and students participated in the “Black Lives Matter at School” week of action—a growing national coalition and effort to promote racial justice in education.   We have legislators dropping facts about our history.   NFL players writing and publishing books that encourage Black boys to push past the labels and stereotypes society has placed on them. And schools like Butler College Prep that are guiding their students towards HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) over Ivy League schools whose presidents were slave owners.   Bottom line, educators have so much influence over our students. They have the capacity to help fight racism, oppression and inequity but also the ability to endorse it and perpetuate the dehumanization of people of color. Much gratitude to those educators who are making all students feel safe and accepted and in their classrooms.

Tanesha Peeples

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and advocacy of those that are often ignored. Tanesha wholeheartedly believes that education is the foundation for success. Her grand vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or ZIP code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. And that's what she works towards every day.

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