My name is Shreya, I have been a member of the Colonial School District community since I was in kindergarten, and I graduated from Plymouth-Whitemarsh High School in 2018. I currently attend Bryn Mawr College where I study the Growth and Structure of Cities and Educational Studies.
During my time in school I have witnessed and experienced discrimination in many forms* and I find it increasingly necessary to address the racism rooted in our community.
Superintendent Mike Christian released a statement addressing recent events surrounding the state of the nation. The resources that he mentioned are important first-steps to combating racism in our community.
However, I respectfully assert that the district goes further when addressing anti-Blackness and racism. We need to be doing more to be actively anti-racist in our approaches to education. The activism and support for Black individuals in our community should be apparent every day, rather than just within the time frame surrounding a national crisis.
The purpose of this petition is to recognize anti-Blackness in the Colonial community; affirm support for the creation of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee; and bring attention to the following items that need to be addressed by the committee:
- Considering the feelings, opinions, experiences, and safety of students of color more seriously. This can include the institution of serious consequences for racially motivated bullying, strict condemnation of the n-word by non-Black students, and widely accessible channels to report such behavior.
- Establishing more comprehensive social studies lessons when discussing the legacy of slavery and the disenfranchisement of People of Color. This may include providing teachers with more resources and support to cover these topics.
- Implementing instruction that addresses local and relatively recent instances of racism for all students. For example, teaching students about the MOVE bombing in West Philadelphia and addressing the de facto segregation that exists within our area to this day.
- Increased staff diversity. This should include a commitment to hiring and recruiting teachers and administrators of color.
- Providing diversity sensitivity education and training to staff at ALL LEVELS.
- Holding staff accountable for maintaining anti-discrimination policies.
- Taking steps to recognize micro-aggressions from students/staff and requiring these individuals to take responsibility for their words and actions.
- Acknowledging the existence of our schools on land forcibly taken from the indigenous Lenni Lenape tribe.
*I want to recognize that while I am a person of color and was an ethnic minority in the Colonial School District, I am not Black and have never experienced anti-Blackness. This petition is not intended to substitute or overshadow Black voices in our community. I invite others to share their experiences when signing.
Colonial School District Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives
Information about land acknowledgments
Information about microaggressions
Information about anti-racism
Principles of Anti-Racist Education:
1. There should exist the understanding that there is a system and culture of power that oppresses and marginalizes certain groups in order to maintain itself: white supremacy. Education systems expect everyone to achieve the same level of success when there are students who are inherently privileged by the system (wealthy, white students) and those who are at a serious disadvantage (lower-income and students of color).
2. We cannot be color-blind to the racial identities and racial inequities that exist in our society. By doing this, we are removing racism as the cause for many of the disparities we see in the world today, averting our eyes from the ways in which systematic racism negatively affect people of color, yet privilege white individuals.
3. Racism must continually be identified, analyzed, and challenged in order for anything to be improved. The history of marginalized and silenced groups must be properly addressed.
4. Classrooms should work toward inclusivity by valuing and making space for student input, especially those whose voices might otherwise be marginalized. Student experiences and community knowledge should be incorporated into classwork.
Thank you to Erin Moore for creating graphics and other friends, family, and educators who have helped me put this together.