#IAmForChange — Being Black At North Allegheny: Black History Month 2022

Being Black At North Allegheny: Black History Month 2022

By E. Britton, student

As I am sure you all know, this month is Black History Month. If you recall, at the last board meeting, NA For Change mentioned current students would be returning to speak on how we saw Black History Month being celebrated within NASD buildings. 

Truthfully, I cannot say I was impressed with what I saw at NASH; however, it was more than I have witnessed in previous years. But sadly that was little to nothing.

At the start of the month, I was interviewed by NATV along with other Black students and was asked who our favorite Black figures are—but it is important to note that this was initiated by a Black student. There were various Black figures being displayed on the TVs throughout the hallways.

In my English class, we read poems from two Black authors (Langston Hughes and Maya Angelou) which I appreciated more than imaginable. It was nice to hear about such an amazing Black woman in a system that only seems able to teach us about Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.

Portrait of Maya Angelou. Credit: Smithsonian Institution.

North Allegheny prides itself on an education that prepares its students to get accepted into colleges and universities, but if you really want to create well-rounded students—yes it is important to learn about reading, writing, and arithmetic; however, it is just as important to consider and explore diverse experiences and perspectives. Isn’t that what education is really about?

Another aspect I was happy to hear about was Dr. Dirda reaching out to the Multicultural Student Union about what we were planning to do for Black History Month. Showing an interest and recognizing the month is a mere step in the right direction. However, it still seems that the burden to simply acknowledge and celebrate Black history is still being put upon the students, specifically those of color.

Ingomar Middle school, on the other hand, had a wonderful array of celebrations put into place to celebrate Black History Month. To name a few, there were daily morning announcements that acknowledged certain aspects of Black history, as well as sections incorporated into the school newspaper. There was also a Google Slides presentation sent to all faculty that highlighted African-American firsts in all the core subjects.

Looking at the difference between the celebrations, one is left to wonder why there is such a vast difference between these commemorations.

To put an answer to that, it is because the only Black teacher in the building, Ms. Hinton took the initiative to put it together, because she felt she had to as if she didn’t, no one else would.

If NA is going to rely solely on the African American faculty to implement these Black History celebrations, it would be nice to at least increase the amount of African-American faculty in the district. But even then, it should not always be the job of African-American students and teachers to take the initiative. 

Furthermore, it was discussed at the last school board meeting that this year’s Black History Month focuses on the health and wellness of Black families. What have we done as a district to ensure the health and wellness of our Black Students and faculty are up to par? Having a list of resources where Black students can go to talk and have a safe space would have been an amazing and simple way to contribute to Black History Month.

I’m sure many of you have heard of the incident that has happened over the last few weeks at a private school known as Winchester Thurston. A group of white students “reenacted” the murder of George Floyd as one student knelt on the neck of another while others stood around them laughing.

Now, to be clear I am not saying this has happened at North Allegheny and I pray it never does.

However, I am asking what are we as a district doing to ensure such a disgusting matter does not happen in our buildings next? How are we ensuring that the students here do not believe such a thing to be okay in any shape or form?

These are simple lessons that can be taught during Black History Month and throughout the year that can prevent horrendous incidents as such from happening. 

The creations and impact that African Americans have made on this country have gone unrecognized and unappreciated for generations. It is not the job of Black Americans to wake people up. Black history is American history. Just as we learn about George Washington, we can learn about a Black person who paved the way for us to enjoy life how we do today. 

#IAmForChange because it saddens me that I am for the second year in a row expressing the same sentiments. Hopefully, next year, we will excel in our progress. 

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