Racism has been embedded in our society for centuries. Many of us do not even understand the severity of it for those living through it until it is brought to light through media coverage of cases like George Floyd and Rodney King. Of course, not all racism ends in violence, yet the words we use, and the things we are taught to be true, can be just as harmful as a knife.
In 2020, as the murder of George Floyd hit the news, the alumni of Anchorage Christian Schools in Alaska were shocked and ultimately appalled at the racist responses being made by their former teachers. It immediately brought to the surface their own past experiences while attending ACS and they began sharing stories with each other of the racism they encountered while in school.
After learning they were not alone in the struggles they encountered and discovering the extent of racism and abuse at the hands of teachers and staff, they knew they had to make a change.
The Alumni for Change (now Black Sheep Initiative) was formed.
Together, over 260 alumni from private schools in Alaska have exposed decades of racial discrimination and abuse perpetrated by coaches and faculty members. Everything from racial slurs such as coaches calling students "monkeys”, "beaners", and "jungle boy”, to staff telling Black students that they should feel grateful for the opportunity to even go to a private school, repeatedly reminding them that benefactors have paid for them.
Black Sheep Initiative began recording every story from a wide range of students, all from a variety of backgrounds, and it became evident that change was needed within the private school system. The stories shared were shocking, to say the least, as educational institution leaders such as teachers, staff, and coaches should be the people who protect against racism...not participate in it.
Since June 2020, our group of private school alumni has met with over 50 Alaskan community, political, and youth leaders. We have drafted legislation that will provide protection for minority students against racial discrimination and abuse, and partnered with and received support from the Alaska Black Caucus, Alaska Equal Rights Commission, and the NAACP.
Black Sheep Initiative may have started as a small group of people sharing their stories of racism, but it quickly grew with the mission to create a racist free environment for students in private schools in Alaska and across America. By providing support for BIPOC students as well as guidance and resources for school administrations, we know we can create real change within the private school environment—change that will benefit current and future students and provide them with the safe and nurturing environment that school was intended to be.
Our goal is not simply to point out that racism exists in private schools. Our goal is to ensure that staff, teachers, coaches, etc., are offered guidance and support to fully understand the effects of their actions and discover new ways to approach acts of racism. Every American private school needs to provide anti-racist education in a racism-free environment as the focus should have always been on education alone, yet racism is still running free throughout our schools.
Anti-racism education is important for staff and students so that there is no longer the excuse of ‘I was brought up that way so I don’t know better.’ Words can be just as damaging as physical violence, and it is time to bring our communities, educational institutions, and neighborhoods together to create real change.
Together we are strong but only through support and education can real change be made and to start abolishing racism in our private schools. We need your help.
We have accomplished so much since this movement began and have been able to expose the racism many had turned a blind eye to. We still have so much more work to do in order to fully reach our goals. Our mission is to make Black Sheep Initiative a fully registered non-profit organization as the need is there for continued education and support for students and staff.
As a registered non-profit, we will be speaking at local high schools, addressing and helping revise racist ideologies and misrepresentation in school textbooks, and helping community leaders create policies to protect minority students. We aim to create real change for everyone involved so that every student can learn without racial harassment or whitewashed academic material.
In order to accomplish these important goals, we need your support. Any contribution you are able to make will go directly to our goals of protecting students of color in Christian and private schools across Alaska and the entire United States.
100% of your generous donation will go directly to the following:
● Registration and filing for 501(c)(3) status
● Legal fees
● Daily operations & start-up costs
If you would like to become personally involved in our work, we also need assistance with various tasks to run our non-profit. If you or someone you know can help us with the tasks below, please contact Board Member Anna Simmers through our website at: www.blacksheepinitiative.org
● Website design
● Creating social media content
● Reaching out to private school alumni to get their stories
● Reaching out to politicians and community leaders
● Assisting with fundraising
Any assistance and/or monetary support is welcome no matter how big or how small as every dime helps us reach our goal.
Racism in private schools is inexcusable. Help us fight to protect every student.
Please visit our Instagram page @blacksheepinitiative where so many other stories are being shared by current and former students.
Get involved and help us make a change
- Kristy Clay
- Julie Coulombe
- Patricia Ko
- Pualeilani Monds
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