The second of two Living in Community (LinC) days took place on April 14, with students and faculty engaging in conversations about race and racism. The day’s content centered on topics raised during the first LinC Day of the school year, held on February 13.
The day started with the topic of macro-level racism, touching on economic disparity, the prison system, healthcare, educational disparity, and environmental racism. Students were asked to consider how systemic racism has impacted their own lives, and how they could work against implicit biases in their communities. The meso-level presentation brought to light racism within specific groups or organizations, and spoke to over-policing in minority communities, and the school-to-prison pipeline. The discussion of micro-level racism focused on interpersonal relationships, personal thought processes, and non-institutional racism. The presentation, and subsequent discussion groups, offered tools to respond to microaggressions, and to help define and support allyship. “The systems that have been put in place specifically within the United States have immobilized so many racial groups, and we need to understand that as St. Paul's students,” says Fifth Form LinC Leader Mikai Spencer.
Students watched the program’s first two virtual segments in their humanities classes, a direct result of feedback received after the Winter Term LinC Day. “The humanities classes were a safer space and enabled more engagement,” cites Associate Dean of Students Robb Arndt, who oversees LinC programming. “That was important with a topic that our community [members] wanted to engage with, but [were] also nervous of saying something wrong.”
In an effort to broaden the scope of the conversations, students watched the final segment in their adviser groups, paired with at least one other adviser group from a different dorm. The student LinC leaders’ collective goal was to share the data in the virtual presentations and then provide space for conversation using a shared set of discussion guide questions. “The SPS community needs a stronger shared foundation of education and awareness about racism’s impact on people of color, both here and beyond,” Fifth Form LinC Leader Jackie Chen says, who helped build the presentation on micro-racism. “We wanted everyone to reflect upon their own privileges, and think about how they could make this school — and the world — a more supportive and inclusive place.”
The day represented a communal step toward inclusivity and awareness, one that Chen feels all students and faculty can build on: “With a reflection on personal privilege, and how each person can be an ally, it was a great way to end a day of learning by looking toward future change.”
Spencer adds, “Just because this School has grown doesn’t mean that it is done growing. There may be no quick and easy solution, but acknowledgement is the first step.”