Black History Month At C&C

March 8, 2019

February is over now. The newspaper included several articles about the various happenings at City and Country School including stories about what students were doing in their classroom and Family Service Day. After reading the newspaper, one might wonder, “What didn’t happen last month?” 

Few members of the C&C community recognized that last month was Black History Month.This month is dedicated to the celebration of influential African American figures and the culture of African Americans in general. The near absence of any recognition makes it seem as though Black History Month did not exist.

The one partial moment of remembrance that our community had was during the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day assembly hosted in the Rhythms Room by Millie Cartagena. 

Mille said she was hoping to have an experience that empowered and inspired people. From what I witnessed at the MLK assembly, the topic was so pacified that it felt as if the achievements of MLK were not recognized as the major accomplishments they are. 

But from C&C’s history of “mellowing down” controversial topics, as Gee Roldan puts it, to make them more appealing to younger audiences. 

In addition to this, hardly even five minutes were directly dedicated to MLK. The following forty minutes consisted of students singing traditional black folk songs. I consider this to be cultural appropriation as we were essentially singing songs that slaves used to build fortitude against the oppression of the South. 

By saying that, I believe that singing those songs was a form of cultural appropriation, I do not mean that the topics they concern should not be taught. I merely mean that singing the folk songs of American slaves could be considered offensive to many. As a matter of fact, Black History, as well as other historical narratives, should be incorporated more into the curricula at C&C. 

Gee Roldan agreed that the current curriculum taught to students is based on Eastern European History and not until later on are other cultures more integrated into what is taught to students. She said that she personally noticed that there was not enough Asian or South American history taught at C&C.

Obviously, it is nearly impossible in one year to cover the entire history of every culture, but it would be fairly simple to for example dedicate one year to African studies, then the following year focus on another culture.

Spreading their studies through different years is partially what C&C currently does but the curricula fails to teach all students about certain cultures, more specifically the struggles and accomplishments of African Americans in our country. 

For example, in the Xs, while I studied Mesopotamia, the other group studied Ancient Egypt. In the XIs, I studied the Golden Age of Islam and the other group learned about Ancient China. Once we had finished our independent studies on topics relating to what our class was learning about, we shared with the other group. Although there was intention from the teachers to teach the opposite class what they missed out on, it is impossible to educate students on four months worth of work into an hour. 

Either different cultures should be more integrated into the curricula or we should celebrate events like Black History Month. It presents us with the opportunity to think critically about the painful yet important history of our own country which is necessary because the ancestry of others affects their views on topics.   

 

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