On Nov. 25, 2019, Respond to Racism hosted a student panel for the Lake Oswego School District's Professional Development Day featuring a diverse group of students from Lakeridge and Lake Oswego High School. During the event, the students discussed the pervasiveness of racism in the school district, how teachers and staff tend to respond, daily microaggressions, and more.
It should be noted, that while these panels can be enlightening, the ultimate goal is for community members to use these stories and suggestions as a catalyst for systemic change. As the moderator, I was particularly struck by the theme of burnout and the fact that so many of these students feel like they're effectively fighting these battles alone. As concerned community members, we owe it to them to do our part to lift the burden from their shoulders. Simply put, it's on us to make sure these testimonials are more than a traveling trauma show.
What might that action look like, you ask? Donating time and volunteer hours to culturally specific student groups. Organizing to encourage the school district to invest more resources and space to serve marginalized students' needs. Calling out racist practices and systems in the school district in real time. There are no shortage of actions you can take, but at the end of the day, marginalized students need more boots on the ground to fight against the systems negatively affecting their ability to learn and thrive.
With that in mind, check out the videos and full list of participants below:
Panelists (from left to right): Anna-Marie Guenther (Lakeridge High School), Mya Gordon (Lakeridge High School), Sera Lew (Lake Oswego High School), Penelope Spurr (Lake Oswego High School)
Moderator: Bruce Poinsette - Respond to Racism Media Action Team Leader
Videographer: Lena Wehn - Lake Oswego High School