A Black student noticed something strange about a Black History Month display at his school. Instead of solely focusing on the contributions of Black Americans during Black History Month, the display also celebrated White Americans.
When the Black student, 4-years-old, questioned the display that was called “Celebrating American History,” he was punished and eventually expelled from school.
According to WSBTV, the incident occurred at the Neighborhood Learning Center which is located in a suburb of Atlanta. The display featured Black icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Harriet Tubman, but it also featured George Washington, Jimmy Carter, and Walt Disney.
The child’s mother, Kendra Molden, shared her disagreement with the display in a post on Facebook. The post soon began to go viral. The teacher who created the display, who is also Black, lashed out at Molden on Facebook by writing, “The door states ‘Celebrating American History.’ Pre K has guide lines that must be followed and news flash, Abraham Lincoln freed black people. Go study your history! We are in a diverse learning institution and we do not discriminate,” the teacher wrote. The teacher also ended the post with what could be viewed as a threat by writing, “Don’t let ya mouth write you a check that you can’t cash.”
Hours after Molden shared her displeasure with the display on Facebook, her son was asked to leave the school and told that he could not return. School officials never gave a reason as to why he was being expelled from the school.
The incident sheds light on how systemic racism can be inflicted by any race. The Black teacher at Neighborhood Learning Center is unconsciously contributing to systemic racism by diluting the value of Black History Month. Molden pointed out that kids learn American history throughout the school year and should be taught the historical significance of Blacks during February. There is nothing wrong with embracing diversity in the classroom, but there are a multitude of Black historical figures who should have been highlighted on that particular display. By adding White historical figures during Black History Month, it removes the focus of Black contributions to America. It was a similar tactic used by Vice President Mike Pence who spoke about Abraham Lincoln during a tweet about Black History Month. It’s a subtle move that adds to the reality of White supremacy.
The Neighborhood Learning Center is a private school, but it receives funding through the Georgia Lottery.