On Monday, June 8 we had the opportunity to participate in a virtual town hall meeting focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and racial hatred. We started the discussion by splitting up into smaller groups and talking about the definitions of terms like racism, structural racism, status quo and white privilege. We learned that defining these terms is the first step to educating ourselves about issues of racial injustice and participating in discussions about them. However, we soon came to realize that we could never reduce the centuries of oppression and discrimination faced by the black community to just a simple definition.
We concluded the session by watching some clips of an interview conducted by Hotchkiss School with DeRay Mckesson, a civil rights activist who is a leading voice on the Black Lives Matter movement. This provided us with statistics and laws related to police brutality and impunity and what policies need to be introduced to fight the racism so deeply rooted inside the criminal justice system. We learned about allyship and how we as high schoolers can involve ourselves to support this movement. The first step is to become an ally and extend our sympathies, then move on to become an accomplice by realizing that we have the power to push things in ways that other people don’t. Finally, we can become co-conspirators by asking ourselves “what am I ready to put on the line to support this movement”?
To anyone who wants to gain a deeper understanding of the black experience in America and wants to know how to be a helpful ally, accomplice or even a co-conspirator, we recommend watching his interview.
Through this discussion, we discovered how vast this problem is and quickly concluded that we will never be able to cover every aspect in just an hour and a half. We are looking forward to many more discussions in the future, to broaden our perspectives and to gain a better understanding of the experiences of black people in Canada and around the world.
Not only does there need to be large-scale action taken in response to supporting the #BlackLivesMatter movement but we also must educate ourselves on the centuries of oppression faced by people of African descent. We are very grateful to the teachers who put time and effort into organizing this and giving us the opportunity to gain a better perspective. We have a duty to continuously educate ourselves and we encourage everyone to invest time in these issues both over the summer holidays as well as in the next school year, for example by joining the new social justice club.
We ask again, how much are you willing to put on the line?
Written by Savini Goel ‘21 and Mareike Hofstee ’21