Yesterday, I delivered a session to a group of BAME leaders at Aureus school, we were warned that a dance school is also at the venue and apologies were made about the noise. Through the session, I was particularly amazed at the content of the experience of the delegates and their personal drive to make change for the pupils they serve.
During the session, a tiny, young face appears, not two feet tall, in the glass panel next to the door. As everyone one is a teacher, we all stop, wave and welcome our young visitor into the room. I was also thinking about safeguarding, then I spotted an adult standing behind her.
Hannah Wilson (Executive Headteacher) goes to the door and greets our visitor. Angel who is the sweetest year 2 and also happens to be BAME (or GM), look absolutely perplexed. We all introduce ourselves as teachers and tell her that one we may end up teaching her, yet look of pure confusion doesn’t budge.
Has this child ever seen a BAME teacher? When asked if she had she promptly said no, never shook her head and the expression on her face is unchanged and this broke my heart.
It took me back to another scenario, at a similar session but this time there were 50 BAME leaders (and aspiring) in a room, in a venue near London. Where a group of boys congregated at the door and were continually ushered on. They asked what was going on? the same look of confusion rode across their faces, but they are… They are … the conversation trails of until a teacher usher says… black?
I have to say, to the absolute credit, Jon Chalenor (CEO of GLF Trust) they opened the blinds to the room and celebrated the event with the pupils.
These pupils had never seen such a concentration of BAME leaders in a room, and to these pupils (also BAME), the scene challenged their internal workings. How do you aspire to something that you cannot see?
‘How did we become so god damn invisible? Because If you don’t see yourself represented outside of yourself you just feeling F***ing invisible’
John Leguizamo (Latin History for Morons)
In conclusion, if pupils don’t see people in power that look like them? Along with a curriculum which mainly ignores the achievements of members of the global majority. They not only feel invisible they end up feeling inferior, and even more dangerous their white counterparts superior.
Change comes through actions. If you are a part of a marginalised group know that celebrating your successes has a wider impact.