As the Black Lives Matter movement has garnered a lot of attention the past few weeks, many of us, BHS students and recent alumni, have become much more aware of the systemic racism that exists in this country, in this state, and even in this town.
We’ve learned a lot, and one resource relating to the movement that we recently came across was a campaign called Diversify Your Narrative (https://www.diversifyournarrative.com/). Its aim is to encourage school boards to adopt more diverse curriculums, especially regarding works of literature, to combat racism by raising awareness of and studying Black, Indigenous, and People of Color’s (BIPOC) history and experiences.
Looking back on the books we read at BHS, very few were written by BIPOC authors. As a result, so many perspectives and experiences were not covered, and the urgent and ever-present issues reflected in these works were never discussed in the classroom.
These are our requests to alter the BPS curriculum to promote diverse stories:
- Teach books by BIPOC authors in every grade throughout the Bedford Public School system
- Include more discussion on both post- and pre-civil rights movement in history, specifically systemic racism, the school to prison pipeline, the prison industrial complex and voter disenfranchisement, and how these issues remain a concern today
- When English teachers are teaching books with protagonists whose experiences they do not identify with, invite speakers who do have similar experiences to come and share their perspective
- Discuss the importance of diversity more in STEM subjects as well. For example, highlight a different BIPOC scientist and their contributions each week in elementary and middle school classrooms
- Use sources from underrepresented groups (especially in history classes) to amplify diverse voices
- Open lines of communication between the administration, parents, and student body. For example, when racist, homophobic, etc. incidents occur in town or in school, include the student body in emails that get sent out by the administration
- Leave it up to students to initiate conversations about their perspectives rather than singling them out in class to share
Luckily, Diversify Your Narrative has already done a lot of the work for educators by compiling a recommended reading list and developing a curriculum to help educators teach the material. (Here’s the link to their reading list: https://docs.google.com/document/d/123DN2s1JRCvvgNyWkg5mbCjzeLDcMlGO-baQlDlfAcw/edit).
We urge the administration to look into these resources, reassess the history and English curriculums throughout the Bedford Public Schools, and adjust the curriculums to include more BIPOC perspectives.
We have an overwhelming amount of ideas to share, and we hope to introduce more requests as each is met. We do not expect these changes to be implemented this academic year, but we hope specific plans are made for the 2021-2022 school year. Additionally, we eventually plan to send out voluntary surveys to the student body to assess progress and receive direct feedback.
We would love to hear back from BPS staff and are open to more discussion about our requests. We also welcome any interested BHS students to join our team. Please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]