On October 8, 2018, students from Dwight Morrow High School attended the annual “Teens Talk about Racism” conference held at Fairleigh Dickinson University where both high school students and collegiate upperclassmen shared their thoughts and attitudes about racism in discussions. The relaxed and sociable atmosphere there allowed impassioned students to openly discuss their feelings without any fear of judgment.
“I loved meeting new people who genuinely wanted to talk about racism and share their stories. When it came to group discussions about racism, everyone was so kind and understanding,” sophomore Khushi Panchal said.
This year the topic of discussion centered around microaggressions, unintentional verbal or nonverbal comments that insult a particular group, and how their prevalence in society contributes to racism. Several students including seniors Balasia McNeil and Joshnelly Orbe, and sophomores Emilia Bern and Sebastian Salazar even got the opportunity to lead workshops.
“It’s so cool to meet students from other towns who have the same and different views about racism,” sophomore Emilia Bern said.
The field trip was organized by history teacher Judy Aronson and French teacher Sabrina Tolu, who both believe the event is highly important for cultural diversity in America.
“I think it is so important today for students to understand the impact of all kinds of racism, from blatant comments to the micro-aggressions talked about at TTAR. Students who attended the conference, many of whom are members of the DMAE Diversity Club, will share their experiences with others and impact the DMAE culture in real, palpable ways,” Ms. Aronson said.
By listening to others’ experiences, students gained a broader understanding of how different ethnic social groups endure and treat racism. In addition to a learning experience, this conference was a great social gathering where students from all over Bergen County easily formed mutual bonds and trusting relationships with each other.
“I felt very happy and lucky to be able to meet such kind, understanding, and genuine people,” Khushi said.
The “Teens Talk about Racism” is a youth leadership event open to all students passionate in standing up for racism and cultivating leadership skills that will enable them to foster change in their community. The DMAE students had a great time at this year’s conference and already anticipate going to the trip next fall.
“The key takeaway for me was that even the smallest things you don’t notice, like microaggressions, affect the people around you because everyone has their own story and difficulty,” Emilia said. “I absolutely loved Teens Talk and plan to go all four years of my high school.”