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NAAPID: the day to welcome black parents to the table

Courtesy of St. Paul Public Schools

I love National African American Parent Involvement Day (NAAPID)! Each year when it comes near and I start to see the emails and invitations I mark it on calendar and get excited. Why?

Raising my 14-year-old alone is tricky. Malachi (my eighth-grader) is smart, funny, has charisma and simply owns who he is becoming as a brown person. NAAPID is my day each year to walk into his school environment, celebrate being a brown parent, and champion our educational goals.

This year NAAPID didn’t quite go as I expected. My son’s school officials decided to get more bang for their buck (they wanted as many parents to attend as possible) and hold it on Tuesday (Feb. 9), instead of today, its nationally recognized day. They also decided to call it National Parent Involvement Day (NPID). For the record, NPID is nationally recognized on the third Thursday of November, not on NAAPID.

Its purpose is important

It was a wake-up call to me to realize as a parent that schools across this state are scared of welcoming the day that is NAAPID and because of fear want to either reschedule the day and/or call it NPID. This erases both the importance of welcoming black parents to educational institutions that have historically and traditionally not been welcoming places to nonwhite parents and students.

NAAPID is important. I make it a practice and honor the holiday by showing up. For conferences, games, events and/or meetings I show up. As a black parent I show up. Every single instance that I show up I’m showing up as a black parent on white domains and fields. Our educational systems are racist and segregated. NAAPID is the one day where that gets reversed and where black parents are welcomed with open arms.

But in honoring National African American Parent Involvement Day it reiterates that it is a day that should be recognized and not re-named. Black parents should be invited, welcomed and heralded for our all we do to present and raise our children. Our children’s lives matter and this day should matter.

A day for black voices to be heard

NAAPID isn’t a day to try to maximize parent involvement. It’s also not a day to try to get all parents at the table by calling it National Parent Involvement Day. It’s a day to welcome black parents to the table. It’s one day where we attempt to invite black parents to be our equals and participate in their children’s education. It’s a day where we welcome all parents but put the emphasis on welcoming the black parents so that their voices are heard and to underscore every single other day where their voices don’t matter and are unheard.

Quendy Raymond has been an advocate for homeless families for five years, an executive director of an afterschool and summer program for impoverished children and youth in the Phillips neighborhood for six years, and is parenting Malachi Qavion Davis Raymond, an eighth-grader at Open World Learning Community School.

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