‘Hangman’ at Middle School

Published: 2/19/2021 4:30:32 PM

As children, many of us played the spelling game hangman. It seemed innocent enough then, but a clearer look at this seemingly innocuous sketch of a lynching reveals how racism is buried so deeply in our consciousness.

Recently, a teacher at the Greenfield Middle School led a classroom in the game of hangman. The words to be spelled, under the image of a lynching, were Black Lives Matter. The teacher called on a child of color to read the words. The shaming, humiliation and threatening of children of color in their classroom is unacceptable.

The teacher went on to deny the validity of Black History Month, asking why there is no White History Month. The answer, of course, is every month is White History Month. To be blind to the racism embedded in hangman displays a lack of sensitivity and awareness. To be blind to the importance of Black history month when white privilege is embedded in our society and school curriculum, when we see the expression of that privilege manifest in the news cycle over and over, is shocking.

If the Greenfield schools mean to serve all students, they need to do better by their students of color. We call on Greenfield Education Department to sponsor anti-racism trainings for all staff to understand how they can best support all their students by identifying and challenging cultural assumptions based on racist practices. They need to take a close look at the curriculum, to see who it validates and see who it excludes, with the goal of offering a curriculum that validates and supports all children.

Musica Franklin knows the children who were singled out in the Middle School classroom. We work with them four days a week after school. They are smart, motivated, respectful and considerate. Their teacher would do well to follow their example.

(This letter was sent to: Lynn R. Dole, Principal, Greenfield Middle School; Amy Proietti, Greenfield School Committee Chair; and Superintendent Jordana B. Harper.)

Rachelle Ackerman, associate director

Haley Anderson

Christine Bates

Wes Brown

Vicki Citron

Michelle Dwyer

Bekka Eöwind

Tara Kurland

Gloria Matlock

Aidin Martinez

Eric Mrugala

Sarah-Hadley Yakir

Musica Franklin


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