A List of Demands to Achieve Racial Equity and Inclusion at Bangor High School
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Since attending a joint School Board and City Council meeting in December with my close friend and fellow activist, Ijeoma Obi, where we shared our testimonies unveiling the racial discrimination we, and many other students of color, continually face at Bangor High School by students and school administrators, relatively nothing has been done to work towards change. Thus, we have publically shared our stories alongside other students of color through a Bangor Daily News article. Now, we have outlined a series of demands that BHS and the school board MUST implement in order to eliminate the cancer that is racial discrimination at Bangor High. I encourage you to be part of this system change by signing this petition and sharing it. Together, we have the power to dismantle this corrupt system and foster a more equitable and inclusive environment at BHS that truly achieves "Academic Excellence For All"!
Demands to Achieve Racial Equity and Inclusion at BHS:
Accountability: The students in the article, I, and all those who have faced racial discrimination at BHS demand a formal, written apology signed by BHS administrators Dr. Betsy Webb, Mr. Paul Butler, Mr. Timothy Reed, and Mr. Brian Doyle, as well as the entire school board for failing us in creating an inclusive school environment.
- The hiring of more staff, and elected school officials, of color. BHS currently has less than five staff of color, two of whom typically do not interact with a large number of students. It is imperative that students of color have allies, those who look like them, who can truly understand the issues they are facing because of their shared, lived experiences. Similarly, more BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) need to be elected onto both the school board and city council.
- The integration of more books and resources by authors of color. Less books authored by cis-gendered, straight, white men, and more authored by a diverse group of writers! Students of color have been robbed of exploring our diverse identities and white students have been robbed of developing cultural competence because of the lack of representation in literature.
- More open dialogues about racial bias and opportunities to develop cultural competence. While the January assembly at BHS was a good start in providing spaces for all students to learn about different cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds, it is only the first step. These initiatives ought to occur throughout the school year and be offered to the entire student body. Similarly, these conversations must be had in a classroom setting where students can actively engage with materials on the issue, ask questions, and voice their concerns.
- Shifting away from the eurocentric ideals BHS history classes are often based in. There should be a focus on every side of the story not just the story of white Americans in American history, as America is, in fact, a melting pot, with many people, from many places.
Teachers, Staff, and Administration:
- Supporting racial- and bias-based professional development opportunities for teachers and staff. The school must foster an environment where its staff is encouraged and compensated for seeking these kinds of training opportunities to further enhance their knowledge of racial issues.
- Quarterly teacher trainings and debriefings on racial discrimination must be held to ensure that teachers can continue to stay informed and build upon their skill sets.
- The creation of a separate coalition of non-educators at the superintendent's office who focus solely on advancing racial inclusivity in schools and addressing reports of racial discrimination.The Portland Public School Department already has such a position, and many strides have been made through its creation. To have an entire group based in the Bangor superintendent's office that includes BIPOC, third-party individuals would bring about much positive change to light.
- Representatives of the BHS Multicultural Student Union (MSU), the only school-based organization for students of color by students of color, need to be present at the aforementioned quarterly teacher trainings and debriefings. The MSU has served as a safe space for students to share the racial discrimination they face in school; therefore, representatives of this club must be present in order to ensure that that the issues of its student of color members are being brought to light and addressed.
Student Disciplinary Action
- An update must be made concerning racial/ethnic/national origin/etc. related bullying in the BSD polices. While each and every one of the incidences that were chronicled by us students in the BDN article were, by BSD definition, bullying, nothing was done when they were reported. Therefore, the Bangor School Department does not even hold itself accountable when it comes to the policies it puts into place. An update must be made to these policies to remove vagueness and concretely outline what is considered to be racially motivated bullying and what the consequences are of these acts are.
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