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Va. Public Schools Look at Ways to Teach Racism Following Blackface Scandals

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Schools in central Virginia are working to stay ahead of any more scandals Schools in central Virginia are working to stay ahead of any more scandals
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) -

The blackface scandals that have come to light over the last few days have educators across the country wondering how to effectively teach students about racism.

In central Virginia, public schools say they already have initiatives in place to deal with the difficult topic.

Schools in the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle County say they are working to stay ahead of any more scandals.

Both districts have and will continue to address their curricula surrounding racism.

“My sons are going to listen to these next voices, and so if I can plant seeds that my son will hear after I’m gone from voices like this, then why not be here,” Ruddy Roye, a documentary photographer, said.

Roye spoke to students at Charlottesville High School on Friday, February 8, about race and identity.

It’s all part of the city schools’ way of teaching students about racism.

Currently, Charlottesville City Schools is one of six school systems statewide involved in Changing the Narrative, a Virginia Humanities initiative that aims to tackle racism by bringing resources that explore black history and culture into schoolrooms and encouraging young people of color to explore and highlight their heritage.

“I try to attend events and encourage students’ participation in different events both here in the community we try and bring in speakers,” Anne Ernst, the library media specialist at CHS, said.

Albemarle County Public Schools has a slightly different approach in that it’s training teachers to have those conversations.

“We also have a diversity resource teacher in every school to help our teachers have those courageous conversations around race and equity,” Bernard Hairston, ACPS’s assistant superintendent, said. “Those folks receive professional development training on a monthly basis.”

Both school divisions are also encouraging students to take advantage of learning opportunities outside of the classroom with trips to the historic home and plantation at Monticello.

“Part of this really important modern conversation about what it means to be American and by looking back at our history including the difficult history of slavery, we can bring that forward and have these difficult conversations about racism and the impacts that it has on today's society,” Linnea Grim, the director of education and visitor programs at Monticello, said.

Albemarle County says a new initiative, the anti-racism policy, will be brought in front of the school board later this month.

Monticello adds that any student is encouraged to come visit and learn more about its history.