SOAR holds meeting with Mayor Jake Spano

Discusses race in the community


Carissa Prestholdt

Junior Amal Abdi talks with fellow SOAR members Dec. 2, 2019. SOAR recently held a meeting with Mayor Jake Spano discussing racism in the community.

Jordyn Deschamps

Junior and Students Organized Against Racism member Anna Overall said the club is working to begin a conversation regarding race and ethnicity.

“Our intent is to kind of get the conversation going about race and ethnicity, rather than laid off the table and just left there in a way, because often in school we don’t get those conversations,” Overall said. 

After attending a virtual Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR) meeting with Mayor Spano Oct. 7, junior Lili Jampsa said she hopes the meeting sparks future discussions regarding race.

“I hope the effect of that meeting is that people know what is going on, and are getting educated,” Jampsa said. “Do your research and be open to conversation, one thing that you could do to help is protesting.”

In the meeting, Spano touched on how people can help with racism by pointing people out if they are being racist. 

“I hope kids and adults can find people who will support them as they are actively working to end systematic racism,” Spano said.

Overall said she hopes Spano listens to what the students had to say during the meeting.

“I hope he actually listens about what we had to say, rather than saying I have to go to this, and then another meeting afterwards — I think the community has to change, before schooling does.”

Junior Matthew Kanyinku said there are plenty of educational books anyone can read to learn more. 

“The book ‘Stamped’ by Jason Renolds is a good book to read because it provides a whole different viewpoint into how race and racism started in America,” Kanyinku said.

Jampsa said she feels going out and doing something about race has a bigger impact than just saying that you are going to do something.

“There is a difference between saying that you are going to do something rather than actually doing so.” Jampsa said. “We are so much more than a club because we actually go out in the real world.”

Kanyinku said he feels there should be more classes to educate more on the topic of race, he shares one of his good experiences in his IB History of the Americas

“I feel like they could use more classes on the topic of race, I’m in IB Americas, and we had a guest speaker talking about race, which I felt like was a good thing to do, it’s an important part of history, and it seems to me overlooked.” 

Spano said in the meeting he believes people come at this in their own ways, whether they see something happening and have to do something about it or come at it in a curiosity type of way.

“Some people have to come at this in their own ways, some people see something happening in the world and have to get involved,” Spano said. “People have an intellectual curiosity about something, so everyone is a little different, If I had one piece of advice to white folks, spend some time listening to black writers, authors, black thinkers, to listen and hear what they have to say, because white folks have a dependence to dominating the conversation, and there are a lot of resources out there.”

Kanyinku said he believes the way we can help race in the community is by just talking about it and being open to conversations.

“Kids now can learn from the past and how their parents went through and dealt with race and trying to make something better out of it — at least to me, adults are saying that we have the luxury of talking about race opeanly, I hope we can use what the last generation did and we can make it better.” 

Overall said she feels kids this time are making bigger differences than adults are. 

“SOAR is not only for kids of color, you can join no matter what race, religion, shape, size, what kind of person you are, as long as you’re really here and want to make a difference, and think that activism is important — I wouldn’t even call it a club it’s an activist group,” Overall said.