“Ms. Jenkins, why does it say, ‘Black Lives Matter’? Do people think my life doesn’t matter?”
Our classroom and school have been preparing for Black Lives Matter at School week, which began on February 4th. Last Thursday, my school put up a whole wall in one of the first grade hallways to help celebrate the week. My little first graders were so entranced by the all-black wall with the big title in green reading, “BLACK LIVES MATTER AT SCHOOL”.
This sparked a lot of conversation during our walk to recess. One of my Black students asked me the question: “Ms. Jenkins, why does it say, ‘Black Lives Matter’? Do people think my life doesn’t matter?” Even though we talk a lot about race within our classroom, this question caught me off guard. Here was a seven-year-old boy who could not understand why people would think his life does not matter just because of the color of his skin.
And, he is completely justified in his confusion. Why does our society allow and perpetuate so much racism that the importance of Black lives are constantly called into question? Why can’t our society actively work against this racism and help dismantle the systems that hurt Black lives? Why does this little boy have to wonder if people think his life matters?
We need to become an anti-racist society. To all my teachers and librarians out there, I believe that it is our job to be anti-racist in our teaching practices and help our students realize why Black Lives Matter. To all the families out there, I believe that it is your job to help raise an anti-racist child that can help further redress the racial inequities in our system.
Black Lives Matter at School Week is a great way to start this year-round conversation and hard work! This year Black Lives Matter at School Week is February 4th to February 8th. It revolves around the principles of the Black Lives Matter movement and the idea of helping our schools become anti-racist.
I have been involved in the planning of this week and taught the curriculum to my students for two years. It may seem like a lot at first, but please know how beneficial this week is for all of your students and yourself. It has helped me create a positive classroom culture that appreciates race and addresses injustices. Here are some resources to help YOU participate this year:
- https://searacialequity.com/resources/blmweek/blm-curriculum/ – This is a list of curriculum and resources that many educators have found useful in their planning.
- https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1ynjEt-R2E1kVl2rwgWXTKbeQFKY16-o0 – Here are the lesson plans that were written by the Seattle Public Schools Ethnic Studies department. There is a lesson plan for each day, Monday – Friday, for K-12 classrooms.
- https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1OLYjlPEAyVN8BEMHL82B6LfUmp2juC05 – The National Black Lives Matter at Schools organization developed a coloring book. This is a fun way to make sure the week is integrated in all areas of the classroom. For example, I’ll be putting it in my Art Center for Choice Time for the week.
- https://blacklivesmatteratschool.com/ – There are more resources on the national website. There is even a Student Creative Challenge, which is a great way for students to participate in the national movement.
This work is so important and I cannot wait to see the impact nationwide! My hope is that, one day, I will be able to answer my student’s question by saying, “Some people used to think that, but, now, everyone works everyday to show that Black Lives Matter everywhere.”
Post any questions in the comments below. Also, comment and tell me what your school or classroom is doing for Black Lives Matter at School week!