Let's talk about: Racisim

Early today I attended a youth leadership summit about racism. This was an organized event from a university held at the community college in my area. All the surrounding schools in the city were invited. The event started with all of us in a large conference room. We had an introduction by an inspiring speaker that was a graduate from the community college. He spoke about his journey of higher education and beyond. After that we had two sessions during the day, everyone was randomized in the first session and the second session we chose.

The first session was literally an open discussion of racism. There were two other adults in my room and they presented topics to our group. For example something they asked us was, what is the definition racism. Then one of our supervisors presented us with a definition; systemic power + racial prejudice. She continued to deconstruct this definition, explaining that being pre judged for your race and having someone with power make it so. When segregation still lived in the 60s black people weren't even allowed to swim in the same pool as whites because they were perceived as dirty, that they would contaminate it.

I didn't mention it before but most of the surrounding schools in my area are suburban schools, that mostly consist of white people. Hopefully that didn't have a negative connotation, but for some reason any mention of a specific race or ethnic group, people are quick to get offensive when most of the time one is simply stating a fact.

The second session I attended was more informative and less of an open discussion. It was on the history of my city. The speaker was a native from my city and a graduate from our inner-city high school. He had a slide presentation with illustrations and newspaper articles from the 60s that were from our local newspaper. During his presentation he spoke about our city during the civil rights movement. How our own city had marches and riots. This session was very inspiring to me and also very eye-opening. One interesting thing that he mentioned during the presentation was at this time the suburbs of our city were being built. White people were able to move into the suburb but black people were not. This was an ah-ha for me because I finally understood why the population of our suburb areas were predominately white. The cycle just continues, every now and then some people of color will move into those areas but its mostly white. The same goes for the city, most of our diversity comes from the city with a minor white population.

What I took away from this summit was that the youth of my city need to be the change. Racism, prejudice, discrimination-it's not going to change until we do something about it. Being apart of the group discussions helped me realize that people need to be educated, not just white people, People of color as well. As a young Hispanic teen I understand the racial prejudice that surrounds me and I also understand why people assume things. The stereotypes help aid people's opinions of me and others. In the next coming year I want to change how my peers look upon each other and how they look towards other people. Change their perception about racism and have open discussions about it.

The hard part is opening up this topic in the right way, after that the discussion is where the educating happens.

Live ~Laugh~Love 

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