From February 2019:
[Video clip of the Mirror of Erised from the first Harry Potter Movie.]
I must ask you not to do this again.
Stop looking into that mirror for a world of your deepest, most desperate desires.
Because when you do so, it’s all about you. What you want, what the supporting cast around you should be like, … how you will create a lesson for black history month that checks all the boxes on your administrator’s checklist.
Yet again, we have a lesson on black history that has gone terribly awry. Michael Harriot of The Root provides the best explanation with his usual sardonic humor why it is a bad idea to have school children reenact any part of America’s history that involves slavery.
This time, a school in Northern Virginia had its P.E. teachers set up an obstacle course for children to run that depicted the underground railroad.
The lame (my interpretation) explanation from the school district was that no children were designated as slaves or slave-owners as groups were made to run across the course.
As if that prevented children of color, those who experience the racism of America every day, from feeling powerful emotions about what it means to be black, not in the quaint days of yore, the antebellum South, does anyone know what the word means today? … Back to the point, black children still carry an enormous burden of America’s racist history.
It doesn’t matter how you try to frame it. To do something like this is to force them to undergo a distress of history and experience.
Because this history is not the past for our students of color. It is the reality of the lives they live now.
So, white teachers, I have a suggestion. The next time you think you dreamed up a great idea for February, the month designated for Black History, before you go about it, run it by your black colleagues first.
And when they say, “No, HELL no, stop that stupid racist <ahem>,” listen.
And don’t do it. Just don’t.