Zakia Jarrett '95, sixth grade English teacher in the Milton Public Schools district, has garnered headlines in Boston and beyond as she is calling for schools to implement an anti-racist curriculum. Zakia’s school district placed her on leave after a comment she made during a class discussion about police brutality and racism was recorded and shared widely without her permission.
During her lesson on June 4, Zakia explained that the Nikki Giovanni poem “Allowables,” which on its surface is about killing spiders, is an extended metaphor. Sharing her interpretation of the poem, Ms. Jarrett said, “in addition to the men who killed Arbery being racist, there are many police officers who are racist as well. And using that as an excuse for killing someone is not a good enough excuse.” Zakia was suspended, then quickly reinstated when the school district was taken to task by overwhelming numbers of supportive colleagues and parents. This incident has spurred many to ask Milton Public Schools to create more racial equity in the school system and curriculum.
“Creating the space to speak in constructive, open and honest ways about race must be instilled in the mission of Milton Public Schools,” Zakia said. We are tremendously proud of Zakia for her skillful teaching, for the bravery she displayed when wrongly accused of misconduct, and for her organizing and activism to advocate for change. Please learn more about Zakia’s work In a recent interview on NPR's Here and Now. She was a role model to countless students before this incident and even more so now. #changemakers