On July 29th- 30th, 2013, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Organizing Against Racism Alliance sponsored a two day Student Racial Equity Workshop at the United Church of Chapel Hill.
Over fifty students, teachers, parents, and adults attended the workshop facilitated by Race Equity Institute’s Dismantling Racism workshop leaders. The trainers used the format typically applied for adult Dismantling Racism workshop participants while tailoring the message for youth. The workshop began with statistics highlighting disparities and disproportionate outcomes especially that occur in the education system. The leaders then showed a documentary on the Children’s March of 1963 in Birmingham, AL, highlighting the important role children played in moving the civil rights movement forward. The trainers also completed a power analysis, focusing on how the education system exploit, oppress, under-serve, and exclude youth of color and their families. Youth then completed a power analysis of institutions in their lives.
Elisa Chinn-Gary, Race Matters for Juvenile Justice (RMJJ) Co-Chair, invited fellow RMJJ Collaborative team members Dana Frady and Judge Rickye Mckoy-Mitchell to attend the training along with Jason Williams of Mecklenburg Ministries and Nikkeia Wiler of The Possibility Project-Charlotte. Jason and Nikkeia also brought along youth from their organizations.
Nikkeia shared her reflections on the workshop:
“On the car ride home, the youth and I concluded that everything we examined in the workshop further confirmed why we must do the work we do. Awareness is one of the 3 pillars of The Possibility Project-Charlotte. This pillar of our curriculum includes workshops on racism and power groups. We all left Chapel Hill eager to start our new season and spread our new knowledge.”
Jason shared his reflections on the workshop:
“I observed youth engage an analysis of racism and in the process become inspired, energized, and transformed. Youth seemed to grasp much of the analysis with ease and depth. I heard one of our Charlotte youth comment, “I am blown away. I cannot believe we were not given this information I school and I am just speechless.” The power of the workshop for this youth was evident.”
The second day began with an introduction by a local spoken word artist CJ who performed an original piece: “My Little College Town,” on racism and its manifestations in UNC-Chapel Hill. Later that day, students were asked how they were connecting with the information. Many youth spoke about feeling a range of emotions while trying to digest how deeply racism is embedded within our society.
Youth appeared strongly impacted by the two day workshop experience. RMJJ Collaborative team leaders are partnering with Mecklenburg Ministries and The Possibility Project-Charlotte to bring student racial equity workshops to Charlotte. RMJJ champions Dana Frady and Judge Rickye McKoy-Mitchell have been vital in advocating for youth to support the work of Race Matters for Juvenile Justice. RMJJ looks forward to moving into the next phase of youth engagement.
Jason Williams shared:
“As the Director of Youth Programs for Mecklenburg Ministries, I am committed to creating opportunities for youth to engage the Dismantling Racism Workshop as an entry point in the movement to end racism. Youth are essential to dismantling racism in our society and institutions. A coalition of youth and youth advocates are working to open the doors of RMJJ’s work to youth.”