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Anti-Racism in HS - What You Can Do as a Student

JUL 10, 2020 • 8 min read

Over the past few months, the term anti-racist and anti-racism have been used by activists when calling upon others to spark social change. It is not enough to be not-racist but we must actively be working to dismantle racism. Anti-racism is an active and deliberate effort to combat multidimensional aspects of racism. It is a consistent commitment to fighting racism wherever, and whenever it occurs.

It is one thing to be anti-racist on social media and around your like-minded friends and family, but again, this is not enough. It is important to teach the importance of anti-racism in all aspects of life, including school! We’ve compiled tips and steps to promote and inspire anti-racism in high school.

Call out racism when you see it and call in others to have a discussion and make a change!

You may wonder, what’s the difference between calling out and calling in? Calling out is the act of letting someone know the language they’re using or their actions are offensive and/or oppressive, and it can also let others know that the language or actions were unacceptable. Calling In is a practice of kindly having an open conversation about the hurtful language or action. For example, when you encounter unacceptable language or behavior, try saying something like, “I noticed you said something that is offensive - are you willing to have a conversation about more inclusive language?” or “I noticed you used an oppressive word, are you willing to have a discussion about how that’s hurtful? ”By creating a safe and open space to make mistakes, acknowledge the mistakes, and actively try to improve, our peers will feel more comfortable joining the conversation.

Ask your professors and/or teachers to incorporate curriculum and materials that teach and promote cultural and racial diversity

A great example of this can be seen in a petition that students recently posted on Facebook meant for Frederick County schools in Maryland. Inspired by demand letters written by the alumni of Xavier College Preparatory School in Arizona and the Morris County School of Technology in New Jersey, the letter asks the school district to "reexamine how we honor Black lives in our education system in elementary, middle, and high school curricula—not simply as a reactionary means, but in direct ways that critically challenge how we frame our nation's history." In addition, the letter demands for Frederick County administrators to conduct a "third-party, holistic review" of its curriculum, hiring, and student body administration. In the letter, students also ask the district to hold implicit-bias trainings for district faculty and staff. Finally, students have asked the district to invite public speakers to provide talks on racial justice and white privilege to the student body.

While these tips may seem like a lot, it’s best to start with what seems like the most achievable task first. If you’re an excellent writer, consider writing a letter to your school board. If you enjoy reading, check out one of the books mentioned above at your local library.

“The heartbeat of antiracism is self-reflection, recognition, admission, and fundamentally self-critique,” he said. “While a racist, when charged with racism, will say, ‘I’m not a racist,’ no matter what they said or did, an antiracist would be willing to confess and recognize what they just said or did was, in fact, racist.” - Ibram X. Kendi in How to Be an Antiracist

Go further! Educate yourself on the implications of race and privilege outside of the classroom

Seek out and read stories about famous BlPOC activists who have spoken out against racism and injustice. We’ve recommended a few incredible, lesser-known activists: Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, Charles Hamilton Houston, Claudette Colvin, Frank Smith Jr., Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray, and Gloria Anzaldúa, just to name a few!

Volunteer at local organizations that fight against racism, work on policy, and support racial equality

Racial justice and equity can’t be achieved by one person or group alone. It takes an array of organizations and activists at all levels, from local to national, to make change happen. Below is a mix of old and new organizations at the national level doing everything they can to make anti-racism our new reality.

National Organizations

Practice social awareness to recognize behaviors that reinforce racism in the classroom and after school activities

There are certain behaviors and actions to recognize in class and in your extracurriculars that may reinforce racism and racist stereotypes. We’ve provided a few definitions of racist tendencies sometimes found in the classroom:

  • Gaslighting: a form of manipulation in which a person or group of people subtly make a marginalized person question their own memory, perception, validity or judgment
    • Example: If a student expresses they’re uncomfortable with a statement or joke made about them and the class or teacher says “It’s not that big of a deal. It’s just a joke! Don’t take it so seriously.”
  • Microaggression: a comment or action that subtly and often unconsciously expresses a prejudiced belief or attitude toward a member of a marginalized group
    • Example: Assuming people are foreign or don’t speak English well because of their appearance.
  • Stereotyping/Stereotypical Jokes: a remark, oftentimes attempting to make others laugh that often targets marginalized groups and uses popular instances of discrimination for humor
    • Example: Making a joke about someone’s intelligence or economic status based on the color of their skin.
  • Tokenism: choosing one person or a few people to represent an entire group in order for the person speaking to appear inclusive
    • Example: When a teacher or staff member may single out students of color to validate their opinions and ideas, even if these come from a place of bias.

Visit Museums

Consider visiting your local cultural museums if safe and possible. Many museums are even offering virtual exhibitions. Check out:

The Mexican Museum, The National Museum of African American History & Culture, The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, The National Museum of the American Indian, and The National Civil Rights Museum.

Team USA

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Team USA

Our team members hail from many different backgrounds, making us a diverse and knowledgeable group with skill sets in countless areas. Our varied expertise allows us to create a custom dream-team for each student we have the opportunity to work with. While we all have our distinct roles, we all wear different hats, which is what truly makes us such a special family armed and eager to provide results!