Ah, February. The month of February Frees, Valentine’s Day and the glorious end of Winter Term. February not only includes these exciting events but also marks the beginning of Black History Month – at least everywhere besides Andover.
Though I am a black girl from a predominately white town, when I was living at home I had the opportunity to learn about famous black people during Black History Month. It greatly encouraged me to know that black people with backgrounds similar to my own had achieved their goals despite the stigma around black people in American society. Black History Month helped me, as well as my white peers, to educate ourselves and appreciate black culture. I thought that a diverse community like Andover, would, like my hometown, fully dedicate at least Black History Month to understanding black culture. Unfortunately, my hopes were crushed.
At Andover, students do celebrate heritage months like Black History Month in February; however, we hastily rush through these celebrations, spending a weekend commemorating it and then essentially ignoring it until the following year. How are students supposed to learn about important cultural traditions of many of their peers when Andover merely hosts a special dinner and dance to “celebrate” them? One weekend is a ridiculously short amount of time to have students learn and appreciate black people and black culture.
Andover should not celebrate black culture exclusively during Black History Month, and the administration should strive to ensure that students have enough time to increase their awareness of black culture at least during Black History Month by extending the weekend celebrations to a full month. In fact, we should dedicate at least one month, respectively, to educating students about the cultures of other minority groups. The English curriculum should also integrate literature about those cultures, and Andover should invite speakers of various minority groups to share their experiences regarding their cultural backgrounds during All-School Meetings.
While celebrating black culture for an entire month may seem time-consuming, if we used the time to learn about black cultures, rather than discussing white history, students would be able to learn about black traditions without losing too much time. Andover simply needs to prioritize and use time more effectively for students to participate in events to celebrate black history.
These celebrations do not necessarily need to cost a large sum of money. Even simply sharing a fact about black culture every day will suffice. Acknowledging and embracing black culture does not require hosting a banquet every day. It simply means that students should be given the opportunity to recognize a culture different from their own.
Celebrating minority heritages and cultures for an entire month is a small step Andover can take to become an inclusive community. Dedicating a substantial amount of time to informing students about marginalized heritages and cultures shows that the experiences of minority students are just as valid and important as those of white students.