MLK Service Day at PWI Private Schools-A ...

MLK Service Day at PWI Private Schools-A Problematic Approach.

Jan 17, 2023

Over the years, the MLK Holiday, a day observed, in which it is a day off from school, has somehow become a day "ON", where private independent schools offer programming, inviting families to participate. However, the issue is that Black labor is extracted to make the event happen.

1. The plant ops team is largely made up of Black/Brown staff, and they don’t end up getting the day off, because they have to set up for the event to happen.

2. There is an expectation, even if implicit, that the Black DEI Director, or that the Black teachers will participate. The ask is really about leading or teaching to a mostly white audience-again, Black labor on a day off.

3. The few Black families and students get repeatedly asked to attend, and at times are made to feel guilty if they choose not to participate. Same with asking the few older Black students to work the event. Very much, “we’re doing this for you, vibes”.

4. These service days are often in direct conflict with the local MLK parades/or community events, that positions a school event in direct competition with supporting local neighborhood efforts.

5. Often times, these service days focus on service that has nothing to do with the actual causes that MLK fought and died for, further trivializing and white-washing his legacy. One year at a school they had the kids packaging dog treats?!?!

Moral of the story: These MLK Service Days need to be done away with. MLK’s legacy was about racial justice, economic justice, and labor justice. How are any of those things being achieved, if the very labor you need is Black labor?

In conclusion, events such as these at PWI’s is just another example of performative gesturing that prioritizes white comfort.

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