The article, “Black students at RBHS call for inclusion, anti-racism training” (News, April 28) saddened me. The stories from the two students in the article were enlightening.
I was a social studies teacher at RBHS for almost four decades. When I started in the mid-70s, the n-word was used constantly. I was beyond shocked. I sent anyone using it to the dean’s office. The dean backed me up. I think the kids being sent were shocked, because they felt so natural using it.
When student Tirza Elliott spoke of her feelings during a discussion following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, my heart broke. A teacher cannot ignore a student’s racist comments. Doing so implies agreement.
RBHS was sued in the 1990s when a teacher ignored homophobic comments. No one wants a repeat of that situation. Many politicians also compared last summer’s protests to the Jan. 6 insurrection. Teachers had a perfect opportunity to point out the false analogy, the blatant lies, the absolute racism and the history leading up to both events.
Student Raven McKelvin talked about black culture and history not being represented in class curriculum. There are so many resources in every subject for teachers to use. I am sure that many teachers do use these resources. “Roots”’ appeared on TV a few years after I started teaching. “Eyes on the Prize,” an excellent PBS series, appeared a few years later. Many episodes led to many great class discussions.
Integrating black history into American History, American political science, sociology or urban studies was easy. No one should ever feel invisible.
I want to thank those two students for speaking out. The Minority Empowerment Club should be a place where students can discuss ways for teachers to help students of color feel more empowered. A list could be presented to the administration for review. Empowering students is what education is all about. We need to listen to our young people.
Jan Goldberg, Riverside