I am currently a rising senior at a school in an affluent part of the community, meaning that it is made up of a good number of white students and teachers.
I have seen firsthand why my school—and all schools in New York City—need anti-racism and bias training and a culturally responsive curriculum for students and teachers.
The problems start at the top. At our school, I’ve seen racial problems dismissed or justified by the administration.
I’ve witnessed minority students silenced or uncomfortable when discussing their own history in history class for the fear of being judged, isolated by teachers, or making our white counterparts uncomfortable.
Worst of all, I know many people, including me, who have felt they had to remain silent when having our culture and people repeatedly disrespected because we are afraid of perpetuating the “loud, problematic black girl” stereotype, and how that perception would affect how we are treated and what opportunities we would have in this unfair system.
These experiences are not confined to me and my school. Racism and implicit biases are widespread ideologies that contribute to a system that lacks cultural understanding. This system applies excessive disciplinary action and isolation to people that look like me.
School has become a space where I fear how my younger sister will be treated by teachers and students once I leave. It has become a place where I fear how she will view herself because of how she is treated by others who lack the tools and knowledge to understand her.
School should be a place where every student can receive an education and feel safe and accepted. This commitment must be shared by my white counterparts and teachers if we ever hope to advance as a society.
I know I’m not alone in needing our teachers and administrators, the people that we spend more of our day with than our own families, to receive anti-racism and bias trainings while also teaching a culturally responsive curriculum.