Black History Month presents schools with the opportunity to both educate students on history and to inspire them to create a better tomorrow, but so often schools miss this mark by a long shot. The latest example of a Black History Month lesson gone awry comes to us from Syracuse, New York.
Kids at KWS Bear Road Elementary School in the North Syracuse Central School District allegedly played a slave and slave master game in their physical education class recently.
In the game, third-graders were to navigate their way through an obstacle course that was intended to represent the Underground Railroad until they reached a "safe house." The goal was to not get caught by the slave master, played by the gym teacher using a big stick to assert himself as said "slave master," or you would be sent to the middle of the gymnasium. A mom of one 8-year-old, one of the only black children in her class, said her daughter was sent to the middle of the gymnasium after she was caught by the "slave master," aka Captain Oblivious.
North Syracuse School District's superintendent, Annette Speach, has stated that she was unaware that such games took place during gym class and that the game was insensitive, inappropriate and has since been discontinued.
Unfortunately this is not the first time a school has flubbed what is meant to be a very important lesson pertaining to Black History Month.
In 2014, an all-girls Catholic school in California celebrated Black History Month by giving their lunch menu a bit of a, um, makeover? The school created a special menu in which fried chicken, watermelon and cornbread were served, thus preserving three very inappropriate and outdated racial stereotypes.
As unfortunate as it may be, ignorance like this happens all the time at our kids' schools, which is why it's important for parents to be aware of the sorts of practices that happen at their own children's schools. How many parents are actually aware of how their children's school celebrates Black History Month? With all that's on a parent's plate, it's easy to sometimes assume that the people in charge of our children's education would be well equipped at teaching such an important lesson. However, the aforementioned stories tell us this might not always be the case.
Black History Month is important to each and every child, which is why it's so important that we take the lessons it teaches more seriously, as its education needs improving. As parents, it's our job to get involved in these lessons, not only to educate our kids about it but also to educate ourselves. Something as simple as learning your child's school's practices pertaining to such a pivotal time could prevent some of the debauchery previously mentioned from happening.
We celebrate Black History Month to inspire our kids to create a better tomorrow, but it's not just their job to create it — it's everyone's.
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