The Echo

Uncensored race panel looks to spark conversation

SOAR hopes to foster open-minded discussion

Equity+coach+and+SOAR+adviser+Matthew+Horel+talks+to+seniors+Rahma+Farah+and+Ambriya+Reese+about+the+complexities+of+race.+SOAR+meets+every+Thursday+at+8+AM.
Equity coach and SOAR adviser Matthew Horel talks to seniors Rahma Farah and Ambriya Reese about the complexities of race. SOAR meets every Thursday at 8 AM.

Equity coach and SOAR adviser Matthew Horel talks to seniors Rahma Farah and Ambriya Reese about the complexities of race. SOAR meets every Thursday at 8 AM.

Malaika Bigirindavyi

Malaika Bigirindavyi

Equity coach and SOAR adviser Matthew Horel talks to seniors Rahma Farah and Ambriya Reese about the complexities of race. SOAR meets every Thursday at 8 AM.

Annabella Strathman

In talking to her classmates and teachers about tomorrow’s uncensored race panel, junior member of Students Organized Against Racism and panel participant Maddy Eduardo said she was met with gratitude and excitement.

“Other schools have had things like it, I think we are the only one near here that hasn’t, and that’s why we should,” Eduardo said. “I have had a lot of teachers and students come up to me and thank me for having it because we should have had it a long time ago.”

Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR) collected questions anonymously through an online form, hoping to provide a welcoming environment for question submissions, according to Eduardo. The panel, made up of approximately 10 students, will answer the questions freely, without having to self-censor.

Principal Scott Meyers said the student-led format of the panel is designed to share the experiences of those who attended this year’s Civil Rights Research Experience, a yearly trip taken by Park students to explore the history of civil rights.

“I believe the format and the idea came up pretty organically with the equity coaches and the people who went on the trip with our group of students, and I really like the format of it,” Meyers said. “We have not directly helped plan it, but I know I’ll be there for certain because it’s fantastic to get the learning that students bring from that experience, and brings some pretty powerful staff development.”

According to Eduardo, the conversations held within the community by SOAR members serve as preparation for the panel.

“We all go to community meetings, to the community at Lennox, and we talk about race with other people in the community, and we talk about courageous conversation, and and we go over the courageous conversation compass,” Eduardo said. “So we have just been practicing for a long time, we just never have gone on a panel”

According to Eduardo, members of the panel will follow the Courageous Conversations model, including conducting conversations according to the courageous conversations compass and following the agreements of courageous conversations.

“Some of the rules (of the compass) are to feel uncomfortable, to not have closure, only speak from your point of view,” Eduardo said. “Being uncomfortable is something that is necessary because if you’re not willing to get outside your box, or speak to someone else, or get another perspective, you’re only going to be stuck in your perspective, you’re never going to reach anything else.”

Social studies teacher Kara Cisco said she feels the panel provides students with a necessary opportunity to deepen multicultural understanding.

“I think that anytime that students have the opportunity to gain a different perspective, then you really just can’t see the world in the same way again, you are always going to remember that cross cultural perspective that you gained and it’s going to make you see a lot of things in a different way,” Cisco said.

Meyers said he hopes the panel will inspire student expression among all groups in the school.

“We want to build in student voice wherever we can and I’m seeing it happen more and more. It may not come in this format, but it’s my aim and my hope to work with groups that meet throughout the day,” Meyers said. “As we start to get that voice, it’s here already, so any way that we can share in the process I think it just models collaborative learning, which is what we hope for in our classrooms, and between adults and students too”

The discussion will take place from 3:45-5 p.m. May 22, in room c350.

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Uncensored race panel looks to spark conversation