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The Log

The Student News Site of Tabor Academy

The Log

The Log

The Black Experience at Tabor

Checking in with students and faculty
The+Black+Experience+at+Tabor
RoseMarie Wallace

“When you see something that is not right, you must say something. You must do something. Each of us must do our part to help build the Beloved Community.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Back on January fifteenth, the school reflected on Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy and the idea of a diverse community, recognizing the importance of listening to others and offering unwavering support. To gauge how the school has been creating this sense of community, the Log sent a survey to the Black Student Union (BSU) to hear Black students’ experiences, both the positive and those that could be improved. 

What is working for Tabor?  

Many students have felt a sense of togetherness in the Tabor community. Some say they can trust the Tabor community when some issues come up. Others share that they have had at least one experience where they can freely express themselves instead of sugarcoating their emotions. Although students take various amounts of time to adapt to this environment, they eventually find a safe place.  

Some respondents named the Black Student Union (BSU) another positive part of the Tabor community.

  One respondent said, “The Black community at Tabor is very open to welcoming new people.”

Another respondent added onto this point, mentioning their enjoyment at events the BSU has hosted, saying, “Some of the [BSU] events were really fun…the BSU actually felt like a community.”  

According to others, the BSU promotes mutual understanding by bringing people together and fostering the sense of belonging that comes from being surrounded by people who look like you or share the same identity. 

In addition, several mentioned Director of Diversity, Equity, and Belonging RoseMarie Wallace’s office as a place of comfort. There, people feel free to spend their leisure time and say what is on their mind. Within that office is a community that is ready to listen to and engage in each other’s stories.  

 Room to grow  

 While many things in the Tabor community are working, there is also room for growth.  

For example, while many Black Tabor students appreciate Ms. Wallace’s office, it is not a space specifically for them. It cannot truly fit everyone or a space where the BSU can properly hold meetings.   

Liv Rodrigues ‘25 (she/her) said, “We need a spot for black people to congregate.”  

Others also wish for an area where Black students can act freely without facing complaints. Instead of disturbing their peers and receiving complaints—that they are being “too loud,” for example—they can bond with their own community while still being a part of the larger community. 

Many people appealed to faculty and students’ advocacy for Black voices. Some respondents who were trying to raise awareness have felt that some of their observations have either been met with no action or defensiveness.  

That lack of action discourages people from reporting what happens. If issues are not reported, they will never get resolved, increasing tensions within the community and arousing frustration among students. The community needs to listen to Black students’ perspectives and take in what they say, even if they do not fully understand; the willingness to support is important.  

Many respondents would like more events to encourage people to connect with people they might not otherwise know much about.

Ways to help  

The real question is how can we make some of these dreams a reality? When discussing these ideas with Associate Head of School Dr. Tyrone Black and Associate Director of College Counseling Mr. Steffon Gales, suggested ways the Tabor faculty and the student body can assist the Black community.  

Dr. Black said, “Students need to know their voice. I want to see them start the discussions and invite key people to these conversations.”  

He emphasized how both his and Ms. Wallace’s doors are always open to get conversations like this started and to assist in choosing the proper audience who will listen to these concerns and actively strive to make a change.  

Mr. Gales said, “Bringing in more guest speakers of color for public forums or discussions.” 

He believes incorporating Black voices into our classroom will continue the growth within students and mentions that there are multiple opportunities to have guest speakers on our campus. Teaching others important values and how their actions can impact others inspires more positive engagement in the future and more action among students.

Many students mentioned a space for the BSU to gather in our survey. When asked about ways to make this a reality, Dr. Black and Mr. Gales had similar ideas.  

Dr. Black emphasized the importance of a “space of fellowship” or a “unity house.” 

Dr. Black said, “A unity house or space of fellowship is designed for many different communities to come together. It tends to lift your spirits once you step in.”  

He returns to the idea of a meeting with faculty and administrators and having an open discussion on how Tabor could provide this space.

While Dr. Black believes the school, led by Head of School Tony Jaccaci, can work to remedy this problem, he also explains that we would need to deal with any ignorance present at Tabor first before the school begins working on shared spaces like this.

Space-wise we are not there to have something like a unity house,”  Dr. Black said. 

Mr. Gales expanded on this opinion, wondering if students could work with Ms. Wallace to create a space where Tabor students and BSU groups from other Boarding schools can come together and congregate.   

Dr. Black and Mr. Gales both encourage the BSU to collaborate with different schools like St. Georges or Buckingham Browne & Nichols School (BB&N) as well as other infinity groups at Tabor like the Asian Student Coalition (ASC). They both emphasized the importance of hearing others’ stories and coming together as a community.

“Black students should know other cultures will be there for us if we are there for them,” Dr. Black said.  

Last but not least, they contributed insightful suggestions to future BSU events. 

Dr. Black proposed trips he wished the BSU and others could go on, highlighting the cultural importance or closeness in location.  

Ideally many of the classes go to different cultural museums like the National Museum of African American history or the Holocaust Museum,” Dr. Black said. “Or trips to nearby cities so the group [BSU] can form a tighter bond.”

While many things at Tabor do support the Black community, there is also room for the school community to improve. Even as Tabor looks for ways to create these improvements, it can continue to nourish the things that are in place and already working. Creating a sense of belonging for all can take time, but an engaged and supportive community hastens the process. 

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