Two Black kids won trophies in chess but most people congratulated them on winning a basketball game.
Sharif El-Mekki, the principal of Mastery Charter School, Shoemaker Campus in West Philadelphia, posted a tweet which shined light on the racist stereotypes that people project on Black kids in our society. The tweet shows two Black kids holding trophy cups with golden chess pieces on them.
The tweet reads, “Folks see [Black] kids walking [with] trophies & automatically congratulate ’em for winning a basketball game.” He then says the boys responded, “[Thanks]! This is for chess.”
Folks see Blk kids walking w trophies & automatically congratulate ’em for winning basketball game. They said,”THX! This is for chess.” 😎 pic.twitter.com/WL1zj00pL3
— Sharif El-Mekki (@selmekki) October 10, 2016
Automatically congratulating Black kids with trophies for winning a basketball game oozes a racist stereotype -no one even thinks they could win something with the help of their brains, not muscles.
“People want to put our children in a box,” El-Mekki said. “There are stereotypes set up about Black people and Black youth. Some are lethal, and all of them are impersonal. I want people to be curious about who our kids and all Black kids are as people, and not just make assumptions.”
The Mastery Charter School’s population is 95 percent Black (90 percent African-American and 5 percent shared between Caribbean and West African).
El-Mekki believes teaching children about bias and racism can’t be done in day-to-day interactions, hence the inclusion of the subjects in the Mastery Charter School’s curriculum. And there is also coursework for seventh-grade students through 12th. Social justice class which focuses on the movements involving children and youth, is a requirement for all eight-grade students. All ninth-grade students have to take African-American history and 11th-grade students are required to study social-emotional learning.
@selmekki checkmate 🏆
— Maxwell Lubin (@MS_Lubin) October 11, 2016
“This is a class specifically focused on ‘How can I express myself as a Black child in a racist society?’” said El-Mekki. The principal said the boys were not offended by people congratulating them for winning basketball trophies,; in fact, they were polite and “surprised that people could think that Black kids wouldn’t play chess.”
There are still too many racist stereotypes surrounding Black people, and, in general, it’s completely disgusting. This exact situation may look meaningless and even funny but that’s where serious long-term bias starts. People who believe Blacks are good in basketball only (though, nobody means to offend Michael Jordan) turn out to be the bosses who oppress African-American employees depriving them of promotions under the assumption Blacks can’t think.