By Kameron Walker, City Year Tulsa AmeriCorps Member
#BlackHistoryMonth has come to an end, but the impact black lives have had and continue to have in our country is important for our students to understand, whether or not they identify as black themselves.
From the language used in and out of the black community, to how often we observe black teachers in our classrooms, or what we observe about black characters in our Netflix shows, these are some of the many topics we discussed in different ways and situations with our students throughout the entire month of February in at our school.
Some of us went to lunch with our upperclassmen, others hosted lunch discussions with our freshmen, and our team hosted a movie night after school.
One of the leaders of this month's events and initiatives is AmeriCorps member, Dorothy Mims. When asked what motivated her leadership she said:
“I decided to spearhead the team's black history talks and interactive conversations because black history and culture are important. If we think about the education that we received as children, we received little to no education concerning the black community's contributions to society... Once I completed my minor in black studies I decided to intentionally devote as much time as possible to the education of the black youth and communities...”
Her passion for communicating with our students and giving them the space to share their opinions on matters not always discussed did not go unnoticed.
One of our lunch discussions focused on words used in and by the black community, but also when used outside the black community or by the general public. When the n-word came up, there seemed to be a divide among the group about who could use the word and why or why not – there were many thoughts, opinions, and emotions.
This debate showed that our students are learning and forming their understanding of what they see and experience inside and outside black communities and culture today. We hope that continuing to engage with our students to highlight, discuss, and even debate important aspects of black history and culture will help our students feel a sense of pride in black history every day as well as be more accepting and understanding of all races and cultures.