Black History Month

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. 

In Commu­nity,

Clarke Weath­er­spoon
Head of School