Most of my life, I have been and continue to be the darkest person or one of the darkest people in certain spaces that I visit. So of course, I get the looks and hear whispers “who is he” and “what does he do to get invited here? It is something that I have become accustomed to since the 1980’s when my family was one of three families of color in a catholic school in Bloomfield, NJ. I was the only black male in my grade levels for five consecutive years out of class average of 22 students. There was another black female and Hispanic male during the same time. Unfortunately, my story is not unique because we are still hearing in 2022 the first black or person of color doing something that had always been perennially designed for white people. Unfortunately, there are students in a number of classrooms throughout America who are being denied many rights, privileges and activities solely based on the color of their dark or darker skin. GOMO intern, Kamil Moore, was very excited to share his story on the matter. He remembered about a situation during his grade years.
“Imagine being the only person of color in your entire second grade class. As you could guess, it wasn’t always easy. Despite being so young, I could always tell when I was being treated differently by my classmates, and even certain teachers. Years later, there is one memory that stays with me.
It was recess, and our teacher brought us to the playground outside. I was always a quiet kid, but when recess came around, I would always break out of my shell and ask to join in on the fun all the other kids were having. I approached a group of my classmates and asked them if I could join in on their game. Their response to my request was that I couldn’t play with them because I was, “too dark.” Those words crushed me. Just because I didn’t look like them, I was inferior and not worth playing with. The teacher took notice as I started crying and approached me.
Once I explained the situation to my teacher, she reassured me. She told me that just because I look different from others it didn’t mean I had any less of a right or privilege to play with them. Swift action followed as she went over to my classmates who made the comment and reprimanded them. She also spoke to their parents about their behavior. Having her stand up for me showed me from a young age that there are people who don’t pass judgment based on the color of one’s skin.”
Kamil’s story is one of many that highlight the impact equity has on a student’s learning experience. As educators, it is our responsibility to ensure a safe and comfortable learning environment for every child. Recess, one of the few designated times for children to strengthen their social skills amongst each other, is no exception. While Kamil’s story centers his experience as a person of color, any child who belongs to a marginalized group has the potential to experience prejudice from their peers, and even from their mentors. This behavior is unacceptable and doesn’t foster a respectful and accepting learning environment.
Equity in education isn’t about holding a child’s hand through their learning experience. It’s about providing support and resources to children who are at a disadvantage so they can advance to their full academic learning potential. As educators, it is our responsibility to set standards of respect among our pupils. By fostering a learning environment that is inclusive of all children, regardless of their skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental and physical disabilities, etc. we create a school environment that everyone feels safe and accepted in. Inclusivity is an integral aspect of ensuring equitable experiences in a learning environment.
As leaders and educators, we must ask ourselves if our institutions meet standards of equity that foster respect and acceptance on every level. Have you considered your specific equity needs? Do you have a committee that is dedicated to the improvement of equity compliance in all phases of your organization? Are your students seeing themselves represented in your curriculum? What resources do you have for children with disabilities? These are some questions that GOMO Educational Services considers when assessing your institution’s pursuit of educational equity. Don’t miss the opportunity that comes with every pupil. Get started today and schedule a consultation!