Photograph by Taisa Strouse

Asha Yearwood, Co-President Black Student Union at MCDS 2019-2020

“I’m Sick & Tired of Being Sick & Tired”

Being a black student at Miami Country Day School is a difficult and multi-faceted experience. This year I am one of the Co-Presidents of the Black Student Union, thus I felt it necessary to write a piece that reflected the opinions expressed to me by members of the BSU. Year after year we’ve dealt with the taxing emotional and mental implications of experiencing prejudice and micro-aggressions that continue to make us feel like undervalued members of our school community. Recently, however, the comment made by Mrs. Dana Vignale, intensified the feelings of exhaustion and disappointment we, as black students, know all too well. Fannie Lou Hamer said it best when she addressed the Democratic National Convention in 1964, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

Many students, like myself, saw a change in leadership as an opportunity to improve our school culture. Correspondingly, I hoped it would improve the black experience at MCDS. However, upon hearing the comment made by Mrs. Vignale, I was taken aback. Although, her comment was said to a white student, it deeply affected many black students on campus. Primarily, it offended the black students from Liberty City. But, it also deeply offended many other black students on campus due to the fact that Liberty City is a predominantly black neighborhood.

I was also genuinely surprised and perplexed by our school community’s collective outrage over Mrs. Vignale’s comment. I have attended Miami Country Day School for six long years and I have never seen the overwhelming majority of the student body express this much interest in a race related issue on campus.

It is no secret that the administration has faced a large amount of push back from students on the new skort length and college sweatshirt policies. Thus, their outrage begs the question: Did some students use this situation to take away Mrs. Vignale’s credibility, taint her character, and presumptuously call her a racist in an effort to get rid of these new policies all under the facade of activism?

Regardless of some students’ malintent, I am pleased that it appears the rest of the student body have taken such a sincere, passionate stance on this issue. I hope that these same students remain our allies and continue to use their collective voice to advocate for us in the future.

Upon learning of Mrs. Vignale’s resignation, I hope that this is a profound learning experience for her and our entire school community. I strongly believe that this situation has provided us with the perfect opportunity to continue having much needed school-wide discussions on race and class. However, during these conversations, I hope we listen to each other with the intent to actually understand one another. Initiatives, such as Pizza with a Point, that encourage healthy, respectful dialogue on important topics, that often make us uncomfortable, are needed now more than ever.

We, the student body, have the power to create a more respectful and compassionate school community. We, the class of 2020, have the power to lead this change and redefine our school culture. We, the black students, have the power to speak up and make sure our voices continue to be heard.

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