February 19, 2023
Waverly Community Members,
Black History Month celebrates the cultures and contributions of Africans-descended people around the world and is often centered around the United States. While we have experienced tremendous political and social change in the years since its inception, we face continued political movements to eliminate the teaching of Black history in the United States. In other instances, it’s impossible to teach Black history because the people who know it don’t work in schools. My own experience tells the tale: I took my first Black history class in 12th grade and the instructor was my dad! Our education can start with an important grammatical and historical question: Why Capitalize Black (and not white)?
Students in all divisions are engaged in learning more about Black history and culture this month. I hope they will share their learnings with you. Some of those learnings are in response to our aspirations as teachers and others in response to issues between students. In the middle school, we had an incident where a student did not use the “N word,” but asked a Black student to do so. Among other responses, we ran a workshop at school called “Who Can Use the N Word?” and provided some useful history and context. I will be facilitating similar workshops in the elementary and high school in the coming days. A few resources for families on this topic: How the “N Word” Became the Atomic Bomb of Racial Slurs and Straight Talk About the “N Word.”
We must continue to shift the teaching of Black History from terrible aspects of our public experiences. I’d like people to understand the mundane beauty and integrity of Black cultures that are vivid and visible each day. I’ll hazard a guess that other people feel the same about their own heritage. We all want to share, embrace others, have space to learn and increase knowledge in the name of building a multicultural community. This is a relatively new aspiration in the United States. Until recently, the notion that we ought to learn together was met with hostility. We aim to equip our students to meet and relate to all people in the world. As our knowledge deepens, we can be more prepared to connect and support one another.
Head of School