Our amazing Mrs Abecasis and Mrs Katz created a phenomenal cross-curricular programme of events for Black History Month (BHM). Staff from almost every part of the curriculum found a way to integrate the themes of BHM into their lessons.
In Art, the students explored the work of Yinka Shonibare MBE, who created ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’ for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. They looked at inspirational quotes from Black figures such as Shirley Chisholm, Michelle Obama and Martin Luther King.
Our Food Preparation and Nutrition department rose to the challenge of creating kosher-Covid compliant food tasting which was related to the African diaspora. This was certainly one of the most popular activities- thank you so much to Mrs Akintunde for bringing this all together.
Mrs Algranati had the students listening to Blues music, creating African drum rhythms, and absorbing the collaborations of Idan Raichel who has worked with Ethiopian Jews, Arabs, traditional Yemenite vocalists, a toaster and percussionist from Suriname, and a South African singer, among others.
In English, the students realised the danger of a single story. Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. In her TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talk, novelist Chimamanda Adichie told the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. They had to rewrite a story which had been studied in the past in relation to the African diaspora and try to write it from their point of view. There was a lot of lively discussion in the lessons about the ‘hidden’ Black icons of our time, and of the Jewish contribution to the Civil Rights movement in America and anti-apartheid in South Africa.
History, French, Maths, Economics, Science, Psychology, and Business Studies all had their part to play in creating awareness of the often hidden contribution of the Black community to every aspect of our lives.
The JS department began with a Dvar Torah on the origins of race after the fall of the Tower of Bavel. The students watched a YouTube clip about racism in modern Israel and examined the religious response to racism. Rabbi Lerer’s excellent speech about the recent protests in America was also used.
Naftali Aklum came to the school to speak about Ethiopian Jews, their culture, some of their struggles in Ethiopia and thereafter in Israel. He also spoke about the journey to Sudan, using the film “The Red Sea Diving Resort” where his own brother was the Mossad agent. He shared his own experiences and how he overcame any misconceptions and started to believe in himself and his abilities.
This month’s experiences have provoked discussion, raised awareness, and increased interest in Black History and the contribution of the Black community to every aspect of our lives.