An Atlanta charter school had to apologize for a questionable prop they used during a black history program. The bit featured second graders holding masks that depict traditional blackface (see video below).
From AJC: The performance, which featured children reciting Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “We Wear the Mask” while holding paper masks in front of their faces, took place during a program Thursday hosted by The Kindezi School at Old Fourth Ward. Parents posted video and pictures that have been shared thousands of times on social media and expressed concern about the appropriateness of the mask and its historical context.
AJC reports that the school said it is “deeply committed” to making sure “this never happens again” and that it will provide teacher’s with education on “cultural competency” to ensure “staff has a thorough understanding of our shared history regarding race and racism in America, and how to engage in productive conversations with our students and the community.”
Kindezi issued the following statement:
“Kindezi Old Fourth Ward sincerely apologizes and accepts responsibility for the hurt, anger, frustration and disappointment caused by the poor judgement we made in having students use masks that mimic blackface while reciting Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s poem, We Wear the Mask at our Black History program Thursday night.
We are deeply committed to ensuring that this never happens again and are immediately taking the following actions:
· The Kindezi Schools is conducting a thorough investigation into this matter.
· Kindezi Old Fourth Ward is providing teacher education on cultural competency and ensuring our staff has a thorough understanding of our shared history regarding race and racism in America, and how to engage in productive conversations with our students and the community.
· We are holding conversations with students to provide the historical context of the imagery and poem used, as well as providing them with an opportunity to express their feelings and thoughts.
· We are initiating a conversation with the Old Fourth Ward community to help initiate the healing process.
Kindezi is committed to delivering a life-changing education, filled with love and rigor, that enables all children to thrive. We are also committed to raising the voices of the communities we serve and providing all our students with a positive learning environment that prepares them for future success.
You may see the masks in the video below. If you can’t see the video you may watch it HERE.