Recently, I came across two very different ways to recognize February as "Black History Month". New Trier recognized the history of African Americans very differently than another high school I visited this month, Mundelein High School.
New Trier's "Black History Month" display -- photo taken by Claire Hartman.
New Trier's display is entitled, "Influential Stories about Black Athletes". New Trier focuses all of African American history on athletics in this display. African Americans being successful in athletics is a common stereotype, so by creating a display only recognizing them for athletics is more stereotypical than reflective and honorary. It's also interesting how the font size is so tiny next to each picture. No student is going to take the time to read that small of a font, if they can even make out the words. It is also notable that New Trier only recognizes African Americans to this extent during February, for it is a temporary display that will only remain intact during "Black History Month".
Mundelein's African American history display -- photo taken by Claire Hartman.
Unlike New Trier, every month is "Black History Month" at Mundelein High School with their nicely painted permanent mural. When I was at this school for a gymnastics meet, I took a moment to truly appreciate the amount of recognition they give to African Americans. Unlike New Trier, which is 83.6% white, less than half of Mundelein High School students are white (48.2%); therefore, the school is incredibly more diverse. Perhaps this explains why they put so much more effort into their display. Another important aspect of this mural is that it focuses on women. Women and African Americans are seen as inferior to white men. By focusing on two minorities, it shows how much they value and respect "Black History Month". New Trier only saw blacks as "athletes", but Mundelein shows blacks are not linked to any stereotype and instead portrayed them three-dimensionally.
To what extent do these two displays explain how America views "Black History Month"? As a New Trier student, how do you view our school's attempt to appreciate African American history in comparison to Mundelein's?