Black History Month: Overcoming Stereotypes

Allan Hardy, Principal
The tragic shooting of Michael Brown this past summer in Ferguson, Missouri sparked a nation-wide debate in the United States about the unfair, and in some cases, lethal treatment of young black males. One of the aims of Black History Month when it began in the United States in 1976, and in 1995 in Canada, was to help rid society of perceived stereotypes against blacks.

I shared a few examples with students taken from two New York Times columns by Nicholas Kristof and Sendil Mullainathan that illustrate that bias against black males may extend into social institutions beyond law enforcement. Statistics gathered in American schools indicate that black students are suspended at a higher rate than any other racial group. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine indicated that whites are more likely than blacks to be
placed on organ transplant waiting lists. A different study revealed that resumes with white- sounding names are more likely to get a call back from employers than identical resumes with black-sounding names.

I reminded students that while learning about black history over the next three weeks, we might also think more critically not only about implicit bias towards blacks, but bias of all types. This type of learning and growth is also part of being a whole person. 
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Greenwood College School

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