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  • Skyla Jewell-Hammie

Utah School Changes Decision Following Backlash For Option to "Opt-Out" of Black History Month

Updated: Apr 6, 2021



Maria Montessori Academy, a charter school in North Ogden, Utah, reversed their decision of initiating a “choice” for some parents and their children in participation of Black History Month. After receiving backlash within the community and on social media, the school “regretted” their decision to send out “opt-out” request forms, per a Guardian report. The director of the school, Micah Hirokawa, explained that he “reluctantly” issued the form voicing his belief that families were able to exercise their “civil rights to not participate,” according to the Guardian. Many critics started to speak out on the incident, and therefore, the local NAACP contacted the school to discuss the seriousness of the decision the school tried to make, and how they plan to proceed. Salt Lake City’s NAACP President Jeanetta Williams believed parents who made this “optional choice” valid, need to home-school their children since they appear to be uncomfortable discussing race relations, according to KSL TV. The director regrets his decisions, but of course, the regret comes after this decision was made public over social media. Is there really regret, and an active action to create racial equity, or is this just “saving face?” What this chapter school needs to look into is not just “resolving any differences” between some of the parents, but creating an ongoing space for racial healing and discussion. These children need to be educated on the entire history, not just the parts that resonate with your European ancestors. What many of these “uncomfortable,” parents seem to forget, is that there cannot be American history taught in our schools, without the detailing of Black history. What is so enraging about learning of the history of another culture, especially one that is so deeply rooted in this country, and not in the best way sometimes?

Black people have experienced one of the words genocide, racial segregation, and overall ignorance, just because of the color of their skin. This inevitably confirms the rhetoric that racism is taught. These kids are being taught that learning about another’s culture and the brutality they faced is somehow wrong. They are teaching that it is uncomfortable to hear about the Black excellence that has been prospering for years because it is a threat. It is a threat to finally see the recognition Black communities need to have. This director of the chapter school is acting as if this was a nonchalant decision that he had no choice over. This form was thought about, talked about, and reviewed, yet it was still sent out. That does not seem very “reluctant” to me. Why are we still having these conversations? Why is it mandatory to learn of every other appreciation of the “American Dream,” but when it comes to BIPOC individuals, their dreams and accomplishments are overlooked? Look at the rich history of Black individuals inventing important household items we use today, yet they weren't given the credit they deserved. Tell me, what is so uncomfortable about supporting another race than your own? It is the fragility of accepting that other cultures deserve appreciation just as much. Resources: Hauser, Christine. “A Utah School Made Black History Month Optional. Then It Reversed Itself.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Feb. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/02/08/us/utah-school-black-history-month.html. Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio. “School Allows Parents to Opt Children out of Black History Month Activities; Director Says He’s ‘Deeply’ Disappointed.” KSL.com, Ksl.com, 6 Feb. 2021, www.ksl.com/article/50102434/school-allows-parents-to-opt-children-out-of-black-history-month-activities-director-says-hes-deeply-disappointed. “Utah School under Fire for Allowing Black History Month Opt-Out.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 8 Feb. 2021, www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/feb/08/utah-school-black-history-month-north-ogden.


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