I’m not Muslim, but I understand how they feel. As a Black male in America, I’m often the victim of stereotypes—a public menace, criminal, thug and the countless other assumptions that are accompanied with being Black in America.
The issue is, stereotypes are mostly negative and portray something or someone negatively. It’s time that we address the unfair, biases that are portrayed upon people of color, non-Christian and privileged citizens of this country. The climate of the country is being driven by stereotypes and stigmas we place on “all” because of the actions of a “few.”
Fellow EdLanta blogger, Shamar Knight-Justice opened the door of awareness around how schools aren’t safe for Black girls which prompted me to tap into parent concerns around the treatment of Muslim students in schools. It’s probably a little harder for those of us who weren’t marginalized in the last presidential election to understand the scrutiny and bias that filled the minds of American citizens. Many Muslim families had to change their school locations and look into various school choice options to ensure the safety of their children. Several remarks during the recent presidential election have created another “September 11th”-atmosphere for these citizens.
NPR recently featured a powerful story on the treatment of Muslim students and teachers in American schools. Post the “Trump Effect,” one Atlanta Metro school, Ivy Prep Academy Kirkwood Campus, received additional Muslim families to enroll as a result of bullying and harassment from their previous schools.
Superintendent Alisha Thomas Morgan and Principal Charcia Nichols of the Kirkwood Campus immediately implemented family and community engagement best practices to ensure that all students and families feel supported, welcomed and respected. The teachers under the principal’s leadership, begin to engage the Muslim students in activities outside of the classroom, including establishing a Muslim support group, having Muslim parents on the Family Engagement Committee and parent leadership groups, but most importantly allowing the students to lead community engagement. From serving as student ambassadors, implementing clothing drives, etc.
“We are proud to be a pillar of hope in the community for not only Muslim families, but all families who want their young girls to attend our schools!” stated Principal Nichols.
Why It’s Important for Schools to Build Culture:
- All students should have access to a quality education.
- Schools have influence to change hatred into unity.
- How we engage families and communities increases student success.
- We have a responsibility to educate others on stereotypes to change them, not empower persons to enable them.
- We have embrace people’s choices to live, worship and love differently that us.
Muslim students, just like any other marginalized group, want the to chance to excel in school. Too much time has passed since the Civil Rights Movement for our country to continue the perpetuation of hatred through stereotypes. We should be teaching our children to embrace cultural difference and respect others for their choices.
Our children respond and engage with others based off the behaviors exhibited by adults. Post election, what did our interaction with each other reflect? In times of crisis and uncertainty, do we join together or separate others because of their unique differences? What do we do to educate children and families about how to move forward in unity from the media speculation about certain Americans who have been victims of being stereotyped and marginalized?
I believe Ivy Prep Academy has given us a good example of finding success in answering these questions. We must advocate not only for families and children to have a choice but respectful school cultures too. Our schools must embrace the cultural, political and religious choices of all the families we serve in order to help students achieve success.
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.