An Amazing Middle School Social Justice Day

This year’s Social Justice Day theme—Racial Equity: The Danger of Silence, The Power of Voice—was inspired by Clint Smith’s poem The Danger of Silence. Rooted in our School’s mission, this day is an opportunity to examine the dimensions of social justice and the ways each of us can be changemakers. Students spent the day examining the following questions:  
  • What is race, and what is racism?
  • How do race and racism affect lived experience?
  • How can you interrupt racial injustice and inequity when you see it?
  • How can you act for racial equity? 
Director of Inclusion & Multicultural Practice Erica Pernell opened the day welcoming everyone and establishing a common language for discussing racial equity and racial justice. Then, middle-schoolers spilled out of the Assembly Hall and reconvened in classrooms for a series of powerful, faculty-led workshops. (See link below for the catalog.) After attending two workshops and eating lunch, students gathered in mixed-grade PODS and worked together to write and illustrate six-word stories that spoke to what they had taken away from their mornings’ experiences about race, racism, and antiracism. Back in the Assembly Hall, students volunteered to share their stories. The day ended with a powerful presentation by poet, educator, and activist Clint Smith, who shared selections of his work.
  
“History is full of examples of young people standing together and using their power to be changemakers,” said Krista Demas, Middle School Head. “With all of the student activism in the news, Social Justice Day is a timely opportunity to think about who we are, the values we hold dear, and ways to use voice to stand up for our beliefs. I am confident that our students will be better equipped to understand bias and inequity and do remarkable things as ethical, antiracist citizens in a global world. I came away with a heart full of hope and joy.”
 
Many thanks to the Social Justice Day Planning Team (Krista Demas, Laniesha Gray, Jody Kopple, Erica Pernell, Paran Quigley) and to the middle-school faculty that planned a wide selection of experiences to make the concepts of equity and justice concrete, immediate, and actionable.
 
The Planning Team offers the discussion prompts below. During this time of home-based learning, consider discussing these with your middle-schooler:
  • What workshops did you attend? How did they help you better understand:
    • race and racism? 
    • lived experiences that might be different from your own? 
    • how to interrupt racial injustice and inequity when you see it? 
  • What was your six-word-story? What photo did you take to go along with it? 
  • What messages of Clint Smith's were most striking to you? 
  • How might you change the way you speak or act based on something you learned or experienced during Social Justice Day?
Click here for a slideshow of photos from the day. 
 
Click here to read about the faculty's powerful, thoughtful Social Justice Day workshop offerings. 
 
Click here for Clint Smith's TED Talk.
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