The week after spring break, FGS held a teach-in. We cancelled classes for the day and had a keynote speaker and workshops (led by students as well as by teachers), and it was a great day all around. Seriously, I felt more optimistic about dealing with the future than I have since the inauguration.
Also, over spring break, a white sophomore posted a photo of herself in what appeared to be blackface on social media. She claims (and I'm inclined to believe her) that she was goofing around with makeup on a boring day at her grandma's and that wasn't intending to do blackface. Ten minutes after she put it up, she pulled the photo back down because a friend contacted her and said, "What the hell are you doing?" and explained what it looked like. She then posted an apology on the same social media platform, explaining that her action had been unintentional but clearly hurtful and that she was sorry. In those same ten minutes, a bunch of kids had liked her post or added laughing emojis to it, and other kids had taken a screenshot of it, which was immediately whizzing around the online world of FGS students. So that whole situation has now blown up. She made a thoughtful apology at a special assembly to the whole school, and two of her classmates of color explained just how hurtful it had been, and all of the adults congratulated ourselves on what an important learning experience this had been.
... but not so fast! It turns out that a vast number of the students felt that the assembly added insult to injury, that the teachers were applauding this white student for her "bravery" but were essentially "letting her get away with it" and that this was typical of how racism operates at FGS. So on Thursday we had a very heavy day indeed of serious conversations, including lots of yelling students.
The whole incident seems to have ripped off a bandaid that was covering a wound much worse than some of us had realized. There is an enormous amount of hurt, at least on the part of a very vocal group of students, and we as a school community need to take a serious look at ourselves and at how our inclusivity work on campus has not been working.
I came home from school on Thursday night completely wound up and adrenalized and exhausted. Fortunately, we have a four-day weekend, which is giving us all some time to regroup and process.
(It's not quite a full four-day weekend for me, since I'm on duty this weekend -- but for the last time this school year! I'm writing this post while sitting in the student center of a neighboring school, having driven a van of our students over for a student conference on sustainability. My hope is to get oodles of work done today so that I can actually have a real weekend on Sunday and Monday.)