Ignorance towards ethnicity angers student
Alesia Etinoff, Contributing Writer
February 5, 2010
Filed under Opinion
The administrators must really be patting themselves on the back because they finally got someone black to speak to the student body. But why? Did the students know the purpose of the woman dressed in her native garb, singing opera folk tunes?
Black History Month is widely celebrated in the month of February. I understand that there might have been scheduling conflicts so that the African folk singer could not come in during the month of February.
But honestly, how many other times throughout the month will black people other than President Barrack Obama be mentioned in a positive light? Even this isn’t likely in such a conservative school.
Would it have killed the leaders of that program to invite one or two African-American students to come up and introduce the assembly? I mean, come on, I know that I’m in a dwindling minority here, but is it too much to ask for the opportunity to say a few words to shed some light on my ancestors?
Does the average JC student even know who Garret Morgan, Madame C.J. Walker, George Washington Carver, and Booker T. Washington are? Some of the greatest inventors have been cast in the shadows of history taught in school.
Over my four years here, the most we have done for Black History Month was have senior Maggie Yankovich read an excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”
When I was a freshman, I created a music video for English with Kirk Franklin, an African American Gospel producer. I was then told by an administrator, “I see that you’ve done a video that we can show for an assembly, because there has been an increase in black people, not that I asked for it, but would you be willing to show this during an academic awards assembly?”
Well, the assembly got snowed out, and it was never spoken of again. And here I show up to school, two weeks ago, to a woman singing her heart out in the name of “Black History.”
I heard a teacher whisper, “Did you go to that? Is this really what we need to be spending our money on?” They didn’t even see the point to celebrate cultural diversity in the first place! However, I do agree that we don’t necessarily have to spend our money on programs like this.
Instead, put together a committee of people that want to celebrate ethnicity in general. What about Latino Heritage Month? Thank God there is Librarian Anne Baker, who at least announces that there is an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, and foreign language and math teacher Fen-Whey Koh, who celebrates Chinese heritage as well. Vice Principal for Academics Gary Scholl makes sure there is an annual event for Native American Heritage. But we can’t even mention Black History Month?
The reality is, whether there are African-American students, Asian students, or Latino students, their history should not be left uncovered. For us to boast of ourselves as a “college preparatory school,” there is much left to be desired. There are going to be other races in college. Parents are sending their children off to high school with an inbred ignorance to other ethnicities.
It’s one thing for me to have to deal with 14-18 year old ignorance in high school, but building students up to exemplify 18-22 year old ignorance in college? That’s ignorance for life.
Alesia Etinoff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org