NEYON Ethnic Studies Teach-In:
Insight and Takeaways from the Youth - Yan
Yan Sosa (He, Him, His)
Providence Student Union
November 17th was a great day for some of the youth organizations in New England as they were all allowed to collaborate in a day long conference. In this conference, the youth were able to share and discuss ideas concerning racial justice and culturally responsive education in our school system. Being a youth myself in that space, I felt not only pleased with the information presented throughout the day, but pleasantly surprised with the skills demonstrated to us. What I mean by that is the showcase of campaign work done by CEJ (Coalition for Educational Justice) in New York City and how the facilitators utilized their example to help the organizations in attendance gauge their own progress in the common struggle against systemic racism in our schools.
Ultimately my biggest takeaway from this event is that we are all focusing on the same issues yet we use different methods of carrying out our work. Upon sharing these methods, we learn from each other while connecting by internalizing each others experiences. One example that struck me the most was an anecdote from a Connecticut student in which he described the barriers that were still present in his school. He referred to the lack of diversity that he saw along with certain aspects of his environment that troubled him the most. He specifically stated that until recently, his principal would be addressed as the housemaster. That, in particular changed my perspective of the racism that we face daily.
As a member of Providence Student Union, my role is to work with my peers to create equality and better opportunities for students by giving them a voice. However, I never stopped to think about the lack of diversity amongst the teachers in my school. Even though there are plenty of students of color, we can’t say the same for our teachers. When my organization left the conference, we immediately acknowledged how important it was to tackle that issue head-on.
We also learned how to conduct research at this event. The list that we were given included surveys, interviews, and statistics. The goal was to learn about these skills and incorporate them into our work regardless of how far away we are from accomplishing our tasks. Everything in this conference helped a lot and I would love to continue with building this new community for ethnic studies. (The food was great too.)