November 22, 2017

Diverse American Voices introduces new cultures and perspectives

By Jacob Nangle '18, Staff Writer

From left to right: teachers Ms. Shima Khan, Mr. Grant Hightower, and Mr. Alan Brazier.

It is relatively safe to say that race is a prominent issue in modern society. It is also appropriate to state that racial tensions and the understanding human differences is a conflict that exists Wellesley. That may improve, however, as the Diverse American Voices class opens the door to new cultures and perspectives.

The class, taught by Ms. Shima Khan, Mr. Alan Brazier, and Mr. Grant Hightower, explores readings and opens up discussions about race and ethnicity. Students in the class are inspired by and engaged in the curriculum.

Dean Simpson ’17, one of the members of the class, said “Diverse American Voices, already, is the most interesting class I’ve taken in my four years of high school. I enter the class every day eager to share my opinions, ideas, and perspective on very controversial topics.”

“It has made me more confident in my identity,” said Simpson. “For a long time, I have almost been ashamed of being black, especially while attending a school and living in a community where the majority of students and residents are white. As I continue to talk about issues concerning race in Diverse American Voices, I have come to realize that being a minority isn’t anything I should be ashamed of at all. Being black is what makes me unique, and for that I should be proud.”

Simpson stated that this class not only works on the level of self approval, but contributes to a greater understanding of diversity within our school. “To me, that is the most important part of the class. If we learn to understand the cultures and backgrounds of others, this cultivates an incredible peaceful and welcoming atmosphere. Classes like these are big steps to ensuring that our community remains a safe environment for everyone.”

Khan, one of the teachers of the course, shares an equally optimistic and bold view of the role Diverse American Voices plays in the community. “It gives a teacher of color a voice.” Not only does Khan feel right at home when discussing race, she believes it’s hardly discussed.”

According to Khan, the students are fascinated and deeply engaged with the material. It would not be a rarity to see students debating with each other or with one of the teachers after the bell has rung. It is a conversation that does not die after class, and that is one of the aspects Khan finds most important.

After the racially charged Facebook group chat incident happened this past summer, the Wellesley community is definitely embroiled in a racially tense atmosphere. Not only has Khan been teaching the concept of One Wellesley in her class, but she believes the discussion of race “is a beautiful thing.”

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