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Masters hosts Social Justice Summit for Second Straight Year

Yasmine Pascal, Accountability and Accuracy Manager

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 Over 100 students and faculty of different backgrounds, ethnicities, races, gender and sexualities from The Masters School, Rye Country Day and Holy Child, attended the second annual Saturday Social Justice Summit, hosted by Masters in the Middle School. At the summit, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Sat. Oct. 27, students and faculty were able to lead and participate in various workshops and affinity groups.  This event was coordinated by the Director of Equity and Inclusion, Karen Brown, Rye Country Day Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Oli Morgan, and Masters’ diversity ambassadors. According to Brown, “[The Saturday Summit] is an event that brings a diverse group of people together to celebrate their similarities and their differences.”

At the Summit, students and faculty were able to participate in the workshops which interested them most. Each workshop highlighted prominent social justice issues and hosted open discussions. One of the morning workshops led by Masters senior Sage Francis and City Term senior Bianca Gonzales was titled “The Media, Stereotypes and Role Models,”. This workshop focused on defining personal values and identifying celebrities who most emulate them, as well how stereotypes affect us daily. Gonzales began the discussion with how stereotypes affected her personally. “I worked harder in school, because there was a stereotype that Mexicans were dumb,” she said. The discussion shifted to examples that are often spotlighted in the news, such as Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling movement.

 

Affinity groups also played a key role in the day. Each group discussed topics such as stereotypes and confidence. The Black Affinity Group, led by Masters senior Rachel Aideyan and sophomore Shamira Guillaume, discussed issues within and concerning the black community. One of the main topics of discussion was stereotypes. Senior Valan Thomas, from Holy Child said, “People thought I was a drug dealer, but I was just quiet…I was 12.” The group also spoke about colorism, and the idea that sometimes black people, especially women with a lighter complexion are thought of as more attractive than women with a darker complexion. A female student, from Rye, said “In my culture, there are lightening products in every store.” She also said that a woman once told her that she would be prettier if she lightened her skin.

Workshops often presented material in ways that were tangible for high schoolers to understand and connect with.  A workshop titled ‘Understanding Privilege’, led by Masters junior Madison Burton, sophomore Sophie Neal and Holy Child senior Elianna Bland, had each student  participate in a privilege walk, where people moved based on specific questions asked by the facilitator. For example, ‘take one step forward if you own a car.’ Your position at the end of the walk would indicate the amount of privilege you had; if you were towards the back of the room you had less privilege, while if you were at the front of the room you had more privilege compared to the other people in the group.  After the activity, the group had time to reflect on the questions asked and how much they moved forward or backwards. Junior Jaelyn Felton said, “I never had to worry where my next meal would come from. I never realized how privileged I was until I came to Masters.”

The summit ended with a pizza and dance party in the Doc Wilson Hall. Junior Leron Dugan said “[The pizza party] was very fun, we listened to good music and ate a lot of pizza… hopefully next year, there would be more people. No matter your race or what you identify as, the social justice summit is for everyone.”

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Masters hosts Social Justice Summit for Second Straight Year