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The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

New chapter for English class: Writers of Color

English teacher Maria Julian will teach the returning Writers of Color course in the 2024-2025 school year. The class will read literature written by writers of color and analyze characters using a racial and cultural lens.

The Writers of Color class will unfold as a warm space to discuss tough topics through literature.

The honors English course will examine the authors and characters of the books by writers of color through a racial and cultural lens. The class aims to open a forum for learning, self-reflection and discovery.

School Within a School (SWS) English teacher Zachary Broken Rope has taught in the program for multiple years and has taught the course in mainstream school for the 2022-23 school year. He said the course’s intensity is led by strong, genuine interest and the fact that it is an honors class preparing for AP exams.

“It’s a push and pull of creating a small, safe, open community to discuss really difficult content sometimes and providing rigorous instruction,” Broken Rope said.

English teacher Maria Julian, who is teaching the Writers of Color course next year, said that with each book they read, the class will explore how the author’s racial identity and experiences have impacted their careers and their writing.

“It’s more about offering anyone who’d be interested in doing a deep dive into how writers of color express themselves and the unique perspective and struggles that a person of color might experience,” Julian said. “So, it offers a way for all students and all people, whether they are a person of color or not, to get a different perspective and to view different issues.”

Through exploring the experiences of writers of color, and drawing a ‘mirror,’ a reflection of one’s own experiences, Julian said she looks forward to the class becoming a safe space for both students and herself to share their personal experiences.

“We can have conversations about what’s going on in the world and how our identities impact how we respond to events that are going on in the world, but through the lens of our characters.
So, I think it’s going to be a very meaningful class in which to explore our identities,” Julian said.

Junior Olivia Mataraza said she looks forward to hearing people of color’s experiences. She said learning from other’s stories is the best way to learn, and it is especially important to gather these perspectives as she gets older.

“Especially going into college next year, I think you meet a much larger variety of people, so I think having or trying to understand more people’s experiences, possibly through reading, will help make connections,” Mataraza said.

Julian said all of the conversations surrounding race will likely bring challenges, but these moments of discomfort are part of the strength of the course.

“I think part of being in a class such as Writers of Colors and a student in general at the high school is to have a safe space to sit with discomfort, because some things are not comfortable to talk about, but they’re important to talk about,” Julian said.

Despite the excitement surrounding Writers of Color next year, in past years, the course has not been offered in the mainstream due to too few people signing up. Julian said that because of this, it is important that people interested in the class sign up, for the benefit of the entire community.

“At the end of the day, the students decide what we can [do]. We can offer the course, but the students need to choose to take it for us to be able to teach it,” Julian said.

Julian said that this class will be meaningful for many people, in ways that English classes have never been before. She said she is excited about the positive shift in course options this course exemplifies.

“One of the main reasons why I wanted to teach was because the English courses that I was able to take in high school and in college were either ‘American Lit’ or ‘Brit Lit,’” Julian said. “So, the idea that we have expanded beyond that is exciting to me.”

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