I wish it was possible for my children to only encounter adults who want to guide and support them. They have two parents and a wealth of family to show them what’s possible, what’s realistic and attainable. But there are still instances that slip through, like my oldest daughter’s English teacher telling the class they should all consider a trade because none of them would make it to college.
Instances like these are what it’s like being Black at school.
Kelly Wickham Hurst’s new project, Being Black At School, looks to examine how certain structures, statements, situations, thoughts, and perceptions impact Black students. That I recall the school secretary’s comment to me shows it impacted me. That my high schooler came home and immediately told us about her teacher’s comment means it impacted her. But what could have been done on a broader level to educate these people about the (even unconscious) marginalization of Black students?
Being Black At School aims to provide a manual, an actual book on how to help, how to manage, how to guide Black students, how best to help Black families navigate an educational system that seems to systemically oppress them. It aims to make education equitable and explain the necessity of that if one doesn’t understand. Being Black At School aims to teach us how to keep our children safe while in the halls of a school that may not know how best to serve them. It aims to show others — educators, parents, community members, naysayers — what it looks like to feel unsafe at school and how that feeling can affect every aspect of a student’s education.
This is necessary work and I’m glad it’s under Kelly’s direction. A fierce, determined advocate for students, she will not rest until everyone understands the need for, and participates in creating, safe, unbiased learning spaces for Black students.
Visit Being Black At School for more information, to buy the forthcoming book, and to join the movement.