Exposing The Racist Culture From My Hometown High School

In Mayfield Ohio it is a predominately white area. Its a beautiful middle class suburb that has “one of the highest rated public education systems in the country.” (Everyone from the school loves to say that) However, I’ve come to the realization, that if it were not for them giving me such a false education about African American History I would have never chosen it for my major.

To start off I will give you some background about the area. Mayfield as mentioned before has a very good school district so many parents try to move to the area with hopes that their children having gone to our school will provide more opportunity after graduation. However there is a very high property tax. So most of the black families in the area live in one of the many apartment complexes around here. When I started my education in this district I was 8 years old and became part of the less than 10 black kids in my 4th grade class, which had about 80 kids.

For middle school the other elementary schools in the area then combine all the 5th grade classes into one school to start 6th grade. So 4 different elementary schools come together to create our graduating class. In middle school they break us up into 3 teams per grade, and each team has their own core subject teachers. This allows for class sizes to remain less than 25 students per class. Starting in middle I can remember that on average there was at least 2 black students per class. In 8th grade is when they introduce “African American History”, and by that I mean we watched a portion of the the movie Roots after each unit test day, and that went on throughout the school year. That was it. We didn’t even get special lessons for African American History month.

Moving onto high school, my freshman year the high school required we take American History. In that class I believe the unit on Civil Rights lasted 2 weeks, and it didn’t even teach us about the Black Panther Party. I remember only learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and some of the laws that were passed as a result of the Civil Rights Movement. No mention of Huey P. Newton, Angela Davis, or even Malcom X. For African American History Month we got nothing more than a quote from a famous Black Figure on the morning announcements.

Now I am lucky enough to have a father who was alive at the time of the Civil Rights Movement, and he made sure to give my sister and I a proper education about Black History. My father who could tell us stories of times he faced extreme racism. He could tell us about how he felt when he had learned of Dr. King’s assassination.

It deeply saddened me that some of the other black students in my class didn’t know their proper history. A lot of them, along with the white students, believed that Malcom X was the man who started the Black Panther Party. They had never heard of Huey Newton. This realization made me see exactly how deep the miseducation of my fellow students were. They had actually only known what our “teachers” had taught them, and that was basically nothing.

Now I am not blaming my teachers per say, however I am calling out the school board. You see, my father actually reached out to our school board and asked them about the way they teach African American History. He saw the ways they were “educating” my sister and I and he did not like it, but they gave him no response. Also, my mother who has certifications to teach diversity management trainings offered her services for free, they turned her down. However, I’d like to mention that the only teachers of color were language teachers, and I personally did not see a SUBSTITUTE TEACHER of color until my senior year, and I spent 10 years in the same district.

These simple facts showed me that my school did not value African American History. Early on it was evident that the school its self did not care about its Black Students unless they were valuable athletes.

I am glad to say that I know I am a student my teachers will remember because I built relationships with many of them. I can only hope that one day they will see me, and what I am fighting for, and realize that they should fight for change in their school. Each year the population of black students in the district grows. I hope that one day they will realize the way the educate students about the black life is wrong and personally devastating that they find it adequate.

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Mia Adrianna Adams

Mia Adrianna Adams

I'm a student from Cleveland Ohio writing about social injustice and education for the black community