I went to Hutchison School, an all girls school, from the age of 3 until I graduated at 18. I grew up loving my friends and my friends loving me. When we were babies, I knew I was different from everyone but they didn’t make me feel any different for years. As we got older and entered middle school, things started to change, and I grew more aware of the feelings my classmates held about black people. They would feel comfortable talking to me about black people, as though I shared the same views as them. They would call me an “Oreo”, white on the inside and black on the outside, because I wasn’t the racist stereotypes they thought about Black people. It was 6th grade when I began realizing that, not only did some of my classmates hold these views, but that the school did as well.
My white classmates had free reign to say and be racist, and the school would almost always side with them. There was no discipline for them, but there was almost always discipline for me. I remember a classmate calling Barack Obama a monkey, and I had to apologize to her for calling it racist. I remember my English teacher, Ms. Bancroft, told our class that we could say the word ‘nigger’ while acting out a book we were reading. I’ll never forget sitting there, the only black girl in the class, while listening to my “friends” act out being slave masters and shouting the word. My mother, furious, reached out to the school and more or less got no response. I’ll never forget Dr. Smith (the previous headmaster) telling me in the 7th grade that she had instructed multiple teachers to “keep an eye on” me during every lunch to make sure I’m good. In turn, I always genuinely believed I was a bad kid. I was constantly in trouble, and honestly, I began acting out in response. I internalized everything that they called me and said to me, and it has taken years to unlearn it.
There were good things that Hutchison gave me. A stellar education, friends that I still have to this day, and the ability to speak out and have courage thus why I do the work I do today. However, Hutchison also gave me an incredible amount trauma that I still continue to have to process to this day in therapy. Hutchison, until you can vow to be anti-racist, you will continue to be a part of the problem. As it stands, I would not feel comfortable sending my daughters to Hutchison and I want that to change because I do still love my school. That’s why conversations must happen, but soon after, it must be followed by action.
Start by hiring more Black people, and not just to clean the halls, cook lunch, and coach sports teams. I desperately needed more Black teachers and role models growing up. Stop teaching Fairytales 101 and require a Sociology course. Hold white students accountable for being racist by kicking them out. Just please, do more to show that you know that BLACK LIVES MATTER.