Don't get angry; get curious.
If any theme emerged from the webinar hosted by the District Student Advisory Council, on Thursday, it was that. The students in the DSAC group of School District 57 (Prince George) have been working all year on an anti-racism campaign, and the webinar was the culmination of that work. Students talked to students about cultural biases, systemic obstacles, overt bullying, and many other aspects of racism and one of the most effective weapons, the local hosts told the internet audience, was to use the power of questions and voice.
About 4,000 people signed in to watch the one-hour event. Some of the questions they asked included "what steps can we take to stop racism before it happens?," and "what kinds of things should I do if I see racist stuff? I'm only a kid."
The DSAC students, tapping into their own experiences as well as all they have learned over the course of this year of focus on anti-racism, replied to the flow of inquiries. They also showed everyone in the viewing audience some of the videos they created this year using many voices of experience telling stories of how racism affected them.
"Why did we decided to take on a project about anti-racism?," said Harsh Dhaliwal, chair of DSAC. She remembered an incident of blackface (a white person painting themselves black as a hurtful caricature of people of African descent) took place just when the DSAC group was forming for the new school year. At the same time, Dhaliwal said, one of SD57's schools was in the process of public consultation on changing its name. The proposed new name was in the local Dakelh language and that incited ethnically motivated backlash. These two incidents greatly influenced their decision.
"We realized a lot of people in our community were tone-deaf to racism. That was going on within our schools, within our community, especially within our classrooms," Dhaliwal said. "We were seeing micro-aggressions and stereotypes, not just overt acts of racism, and it was the little things that really created barriers. And so we as DSAC decided we wanted to tackle racism for a school year."
That was in 2020 and the initiative grew.
Anyone who still wishes to view the webinar can do so, although the live interactive element is now closed. It can still be a conversation starter for your classroom, social group, family or self. Perhaps it might inspire your curiosity and confidence to stand up against racism when you see it happening in your own life.
It also begs the question: just what might the students of DSAC do next year? The members of DSAC coming back to school in September will have plenty of momentum after such an impactful year, this year.
The show is still available for viewing at https://bit.ly/3LI7DGm