Dear Mr. Mukai,
As a former graduate of West Springfield High School (WSHS), class of 2004, I was very disheartened to hear that the current administration does not find Black History Month to be educational or a valuable lesson for the current student body. Every year, as you know, WSHS has hosted a MANDATORY Black History Month Assembly. However vague and brief the assembly was it was an opportunity for the few black students at the school to highlight the struggles their ancestors have experienced throughout history.
I couldn’t have been more impressed to learn that the Black Student Union (BSU) at West Springfield was able to secure an individual who marched alongside Dr. King in Selma to come and speak about his experiences as a protester during the Civil Rights Movement with all of the students at your institution. Yet you sat in a room of black students at your school and said education was more important. How is this experience not educational and of the utmost importance?
When I was a student at West Springfield High School the administration valued cultural and racial differences. It embraced celebrating the diversity in which we all were being raised around. That is one of the things I loved about the annual Black History Month assembly and the high school I attended.
In a time when we watch people around the country scream racial slurs, we see racial unrest and even issues like xenophobia it seems that the Black History Month assembly would be ever more important at a predominantly white affluent school like West Springfield High School.
As J.H. Clarke said:
History tells a people where they have been and what they have been, where they are and what they are. Most important, history tells a people where they still must go and what they still must be.
A school that allows students to wear the confederate flag as clothing because Virginia is the “capital of the South” is a school that should learn to educate students on all sides of the issues. It is a school that clearly has students that need to be educated on where we still must go and still must be as a people.
There is no doubt, as is said on countless sites about this issue and by the BSU that white students constantly use “words like Nigga, Nigger and Negro on a regular basis.” and ask questions to black students about their “hair, our black features, our backgrounds, that should NEVER even be thought to come out of their mouths. They have set stereotypes about us that make us seem much less than we are.”
If you wonder why Black History Month is important and a day to teach about race and the related struggles look right there.
When you have students taunting black students with shirts of the confederate flag or shirts that read “redneck lives matter” I almost wonder if the administration needs a sensitivity training seminar to realize the systemic issues going on within your school. In the past two years I have heard many alarming issues coming out of your halls that weren’t there when I was a student. From our former band director being sent off to prison for soliciting students for sex under your roof to disenfranchising black students, something has to be done!
I stand with the students and will loudly and proudly do so. I hope you will do the right thing and reinstate the mandatory assemblies.
Bobby Argabrite (formerly Whetsell as a student)