Centering Black history

Centering Black history

At Mt. Scott, our teachers work to center the experiences and voices of our BIPOC students year-round. This Black History month, we’d like to highlight a few of the ways two of our teachers are incorporating a racial equity lens to their curriculum.

In Emily Class’s Social Studies course, the students approach history by focusing on amplifying the voices of people who lived through those experiences. “It’s not white-washed or white-centered history, not sugar coated,” said Class. ““We look for primary sources – journals, photos, and speeches from the voices of BIPOC and other marginalized groups and discuss why these points of view are often excluded.”

During the month of February, Emily’s curriculum centered on Black experiences throughout history: Black Women in the Suffrage Movement, the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II, and the experiences of Black men drafted during the Vietnam War. “As a group, we discuss why these stories aren’t always taught in history classes, why it’s so hard for us to admit failures in a system rooted in white supremacy.”

In Matthew Nelson’s Zines class, students are creating posters highlighting a social justice activist, alive or dead. They are examining the role of print media in bringing history to light. “We talked about the role of Jet magazine in the Civil Rights movement after they published photos of Emmett Till and his mom, as well as some of the local memorial murals around Portland depicting Kalif Browder, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd,” said Nelson.

In his Stats/Probability class, Nelson’s students are examining how mathematical concepts help us understand and explain issues of fairness and justice in the world. Students are comparing Portland’s population demographics with data about police traffic stops and discussing the questions that arise for them and determining what questions can and cannot be answered by certain kinds of data.

And each week, Nelson’s Advisory class is exploring the art and artists from the book Black Futures, a recent collection of art, poems, essays from contemporary Black artists.

Racial justice and equity are an ongoing discussion among Mt. Scott’s teaching staff and student body, not just during the month of February. Stay tuned for more highlights on their work in future posts!