Park Disregards Black History Month

Lack of representation during Black History Month dissapointing


Alicia Mainjeni

As the daughter, granddaughter and niece of a successful, African, immigrant, family, I am always influenced by the past and present experiences of my relatives. I’ve seen my family hustle to get to where they are today, and I’ve learned from it.

Black History Month is always uplifting to me because it is an opportunity for me to raise more awareness and reflect. Black History Month reminds me of so many things: my culture, my history, my privilege and the breakthroughs that my communities continuously have. It is a reminder of how far we have come and the changes we are making to today’s society. This year, I was looking forward to hearing the voices of my peers and their experiences given how the past few years have deeply impacted our community. I have always wanted to feel amplified at school. It seems Park considers a book display in the library and a post on St. Louis Park Public Schools Instagram to be enough. Considering that there is a generous amount of Black and Brown identifying students at Park, it is disappointing to see such a lack of representation.

In class, we are consistently taught that because there “was” a Civil Rights movement, there is no longer struggle for Black and Brown people. However, if we look at our world today, our struggle is still present and the movement is still present. This month is a way for the world to remember important historical figures, events and movements.

Using this month as an opportunity to only speak on Black and Brown trauma or speaking of racism as an artifact of the past is more ignorant than acknowledgment. There is more to Black culture than traumatic history.

In order to have healthy and critical conversation, staff members at Park have to consider teaching from a diverse lens and incorporating the different parts to history. We, of course, need our struggles to be acknowledged for change, but we also need to be embraced as human beings. There is more to our community than us being “exceptional” in a historical context. We are not perfect. But, we do not need to be perfect to be heard, loved, seen and represented. I hope Park can find some time or encouragement to embrace a month that is important to many because, personally, rather than feeling accepted, I feel tolerated.