By Catherine Gonzalez
Interim Dean Tabitha Dell’Angello of the School of Education hosted a session about the 13 Guiding Principles of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement on Feb. 8 in Ed. 105 as part of the 2023 National Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action.
Dell’Angello, who launched the College’s Urban Education program in 2009, finds from her experience of exploring the inequities faced in schools that people often don’t know about the BLM movement’s 13 Guiding Principles, leading to many misconceptions about the movement and its goals.
“I’ve heard people refer to BLM as a hate group and as a terrorist organization,” Dell’Angello said.
Thus, before discussing the 13 Guiding Principles, attendees engaged in small and large group discussions regarding what they know about the BLM movement, why they believe the BLM movement began, what they think the core principles and values of the BLM movement are, and what a social movement is.
A recurring idea discussed was the tie between privilege and civic responsibility, and the common issue that many with privilege live in ignorance of the issues faced by others.
“In school from grades K-12, we don’t learn the full story: we only learn one side,” said Evangelina Santos, a sophomore urban elementary education and Spanish major.
Attendees also found that with this limited knowledge comes harmful, preconceived ideas.
“There’s sometimes a stereotype that Black people will be vicious,” said Elise Ryan, a freshman nursing major.
The 13 Guiding Principles of BLM defy such preconceived notions, promoting understanding and inclusive advocacy.
Each small group at the event was given two to three principles to explore before discussing them as a large group. They were prompted to define their given principles in their own words and discuss how each principle is significant to individuals, the College and the country.
When discussing the principles as a large group, Dell’Angello shared both the BLM organization’s phrasing of their principles and paraphrased versions intended for educating children.
“I sometimes use the children's version with adults to make the concepts very clear and very concrete,” Dell’Angello said.
Participants learned that the 13 Guiding Principles for BLM are Restorative Justice, Empathy, Loving Engagement, Diversity, Globalism, Trans Affirming, Queer Affirming, Collective Value, Intergenerational, Black Families, Black Villages, Unapologetically Black and Black Women.
Participants found many ways in which these principles apply to life at the College. On diversity, Ryan intertwined the need for inclusion as well.
“You could have diversity without being inclusive,” Ryan said. “It’s important for [the College] to have both a diverse and inclusive environment.”
Santos observed that a few of the principles address Black people that are part of other marginalized groups, including women and the LGBTQ+ community.
“There are some people that are being hit in so many different ways,” Santos said.
James A. Felton III, the College’s inaugural vice president for Inclusive Excellence, was especially stricken by the connection between the concept of Loving Engagement and the College’s theme for Black History Month, ‘radical love.’ This concept was defined as “communal love” by senior philosophy and psychology double major and the Black Student Union’s (BSU) president, Victoria Desi, at last week’s Pan-African Flag Raising Ceremony.
Dell’Angello suggests visiting the D.C. Area Educators for Social Justice website to those who wish to explore this topic further.