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Tyra Wilson, junior

Since 1976, a half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, every American president has designated the month of February as Black History Month, a celebration and remembrance of the accomplishments and lives of black Americans. This year’s theme is “African Americans and the Vote,” in honor of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870 and the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Although America has long hailed itself to be the land of the free and the home of the brave, it was not until 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, that black people in America shared such freedom. Although they were legally free following the volatility of the Civil War, they continued to suffer during the Reconstruction period and the establishment of the Jim Crow South.

While the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s brought with it an increase in the equal protection of rights, activist movements have continued into the present day pushing for an expansion of true equality. It seems, however, we are once again experiencing an upsurge of prejudice in mainstream society. For this reason, it is imperative to have open, honest conversations about race relations in America with today’s youth, bringing attention to the role race plays in life and education.

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What does it mean to be a black person in America today?

“Recognizing that Black disparities continue to plague society. As a Black person it is your duty to understand that minorities continue to endure inequalities, despite the efforts to demolish racial barriers.”

In what ways do you see black culture in the world around you? in what ways is it rejected?

“The contributions of Black culture goes beyond the “traditional mainstream” concepts of music & art. Black culture is rooted in a ancestral history that draws its influence from courage, individuality, & strength.”

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing us in overcoming racial biases and systematic racism?

“As a whole, our society still neglects to cultivate positive identities and instead upholds racial misconceptions.”

How can or should governmental organizations take action to address racial tensions in America?

“We should start by refraining from electing government officials that support racial injustices and unethical practices.”

What is the role of education in eliminating racism? and what do you think schools should be doing to improve this?

“Schools should promote diversity & encourage an environment of unity.”

Do you feel African American and black history receives fair and equal representation in the classroom? why or why not?

“In my school experiences, I have recognized a deficit of Black history in the classroom setting. Black history should be integrated into the curriculum beyond Black history month.

Classroom curriculum lacks equal representation of Black history. Some instructors are not equipped with the resources to facilitate tough discussions about race, white privilege, economic inequality, & the complexities of identity.”

What do you wish would change in that regard?

“More district-wide teaching and training seminars that educate on how to teach/discuss racially motivated topics.”

What does the school and it’s students do well when addressing and discussing race and discrimination, and what needs to be improved?

“Our school & students don’t shy away from open-minded discussions with a critical perspective. Increasing student/faculty/staff dialogue through open forums builds relationships & directly addresses hot topic issues.”

When in your life have you experienced racism? What form did this take and how did you respond?

“I have been fortunate to not have experienced any direct acts of racism. If I ever face a racist situation, I hope to respond by educating the perpetrator on the cruel impact of their actions.”

How have race relations in America affected you and your family now and in the past?

“The polarizing effects of race relations have driven a wedge between our goals of self-actualization,  our sense of reality and our worth among the majority.”

How do implicit and explicit bias and stereotypes impact your sense of self and life in general?

“I don’t allow implicit & explicit bias to dictate my sense of self or my interactions with those around me. I’m not oblivious to it, but it serves no purpose for me.”

As a young person in today’s society, what steps still need to be taken in regard to the way people of different races or ethnicity? 

“The chaos of our government has only complicated our youths’ purity. Our society needs to adopt a “No Tolerance” policy.”

Where do you see racism at RBHS, and what steps must happen to correct it? Let us know in the comments below.

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