This past week, we had two readings regarding youth participation online engagement for civil rights issues. Christina Evans wrote in The Nuts and Bolts of Digital Civic Imagination how youth participatory civic engagement, the authors introduced her idea of “digital civic imagination” has not yet been realized in part due to the lack of teaching such skills in the classroom. I feel that many young adults (middle & high school students) are aware of social justice issues, #Blacklivesmatter, and the current immigration fears. They read about these issues online by clicking on links in their Social Media feeds, news (sometimes) and by looking terms and ideas up when they hear about issues from their peers or in the classroom. Many of the skills that could enable youth engagement and discourse in order to work towards positive solutions are skills that we have been learning in BEDUC 476: creating a strong network on Twitter, reading blogs and creating content such as videos and blogs.
I am a recent addition to the staff at a high school in the Shoreline School District which is geographically located just “on top” of Seattle Public Schools (Seattle, WA). Although the student population is not as diverse as those in Seattle public high schools, there is definitely an increasingly diverse student body at our school. With a very noticeably non-diverse teaching staff we are nevertheless attempting to push forward with equity and diversity. One example is the attempt to move away from Eurocentric Social Studies curriculum in our World History courses.
Apart from the classroom and curriculum, I am astounded by the BSU (Black Student Union) and the assembly they put on for the school last Thurs (2/16) and Friday (2/17) which is an annual tradition in February for the African-American History Month. These students worked tirelessly on the assembly and the students were very impressed. The BSU incorporated the following topics throughout the assembly: microagressions, Euro-centrism, White Privilege, being an Ally, and Intersectionality. The assembly included the following: a video following an African-American student titled “Day in the Life”, a poem read by four students, slides defining their topics, an act where eight students walked on stage one by one reading names of innocent African-Americans who lost their lives due to unjust police brutality, a student singing the black national anthem and all throughout the presenters asked students to try and see from multiple perspectives if they were not Black, Latino, Muslim, or LBGTQ. I was blown away! I will end by posting a clip from the Step teams performance which was a favorite. Before they performed, BSU explained that Step routines are historically done in sororities and started in South Africa where drums were outlawed. This performance was live and not digital, but I only hope that these amazing students never stop in their pursuit to open eyes and spread the message of love for all. I left with so many ideas and hopes of helping all of my students find their voices just as the BSU has done.