Teachers facilitate a Lesson on Microaggressions

By: Jeffrey Xiang — Editor-in-Chief

All classes at SHS engaged in a lesson on microaggressions last week as part of a larger effort to educate students and faculty on antiracism.

Teachers facilitated lessons that included the presentation on microaggressions and culminated with a poster of ideas and actions to combat microaggressions. These posters were then shared online through the Students and Educators For Racial Equity Schoology group, which also has resources on anti-racist practices.

The lessons help us make better choices with our everyday statements, says Mr. Mahesh Balan, the new school adjustment counselor and a faculty member involved in the execution of the lessons. He says that while we understand that certain words and jokes are clearly offensive, we still make comments that are racist at their core.

“We need to discuss the everyday statements we make to each other that are not intended to be offensive but whose impact is hurtful and damaging,” said Balan.

Senior Lina Joy agrees that education will help better resolve unintentional mistakes. “I think a lot of people are uneducated and make mistakes without realizing the harm, especially those living with some kind of privilege,” said Joy.

Junior Barry Spoto says that while we may recognize damaging actions, we may not know how to deal with them. “The lessons help us learn how to respond to certain actions we may find questionable yet not necessarily know how to combat,” added Spoto.

Balan says the lesson on microaggressions was a first step in discussing racism in our school and in our lives, and that is crucial.

“What went well is that we started the process. Some students were brave enough to share and in time, I hope, we will develop trust in our community to speak freely, honestly, and respectfully,” said Balan.

While the lesson was informative and sparked conversation on an important topic, there were some difficulties. The Zoom setting, in particular, proved difficult.

“It felt like people weren’t as interested or motivated to participate in the hybrid or remote setting,” said Spoto.

Junior Simone Dunbar agrees that the pandemic made it harder to have the discussion. “I think it was good to remind people, but I don’t think it’s possible to create a lesson that really teaches people in Covid,” said Dunbar.

Joy says that Eagle Block is not an ideal time for these discussions as students are not as focused during what they consider to be a free time.

“I think that the lessons themselves are incredibly important, but the school needs to stop treating them as these random 30-minute conversations during a time where students need to do work and ask for extra help,” said Joy.

Senior Alex Tao agrees that the lessons were very educational but says that “it was hard to come up with concrete solutions to the problems raised.”

Future plans involve watching movies, holding book clubs, having Zoom talks and discussion groups, celebrating cultural events, and inviting guest speakers. More lessons on different antiracist topics will also be held each month. At the end of the year, classes will watch a documentary called “I’m not racist, am I?”

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