On Thursday, October 8 and Friday, October 9, the Buckley School's Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion presented the DEI Symposium 2020: Exploring Justice through Social Change and Identity.
All Middle and Upper School students and faculty engaged in two full days of presentations. The goals for the Symposia this year were to spark conversation about race and racism, engage students with age-appropriate content, foster empathy with marginalized communities, make connections with one’s own identity, and use documentary filmmaking as an engagement tool.
Thank you so much to the DEI team -- Chuck Neddermeyer, Anthony Gaskins, and Sabine Abadou -- for pioneering our first-ever virtual DEI Symposia. Kudos are due to Mahari B., the Diversity Club, and all affinity groups. Finally, thank you to all the presenters, including Middle School students Maia M. and Zoha P.; Upper School students Yalie R., Audrey G., and Lina G.-D.; and faculty members Afsaneh Nury, Nohemí Salazar, Mitch Kohn, Michael Jaffe, and Benj Hewitt.
Please keep reading for more information about the Symposia in both the Middle and Upper School divisions.
In Middle School, students engaged in topics and question prompts around two topics: COVID-19 and racial injustice/racism. After the presentations, students were encouraged to engage in a guided discussion with questions including:
How did you feel during our conversation about COVID-19? Why do you think it felt that way? If we were to have a successful conversation about COVID-19 and the pandemic, what would it look like? What are the signs of a derailed conversation?
How did you feel during our conversation about race/racism? Why do you think it felt that way? If we were to have a successful conversation about race or racism, what would it look like? What are the signs of a derailed conversation?
Which of the following has most influenced your understanding of race or racism?
On Thursday, students and faculty watched the film: "John Lewis: Good Trouble" and engaged in community-wide conversations about the film as a catalyst for social change.
On Friday, different presenters explored identity and representation through the following topics:
"The Reality of Public and Private Identities" by Nohemí Salazar and Afsaneh Nury - What parts of your identity do you share in public and what parts do you choose not to? Come learn about how some people navigate the complexities of identity by examining the life of Frida Kahlo.
"Understanding Anti-Semitism in 2020: A Discussion" by Michael Jaffe and Yalie R. - Understanding antisemitism, let alone becoming an upstander in the face of encountering antisemitism, often feels confusing and daunting, especially as incidents of antisemitism are perpetrated by people whose views span the political spectrum. This symposium aims to provide clarity as to what antisemitism is (and therefore isn't) by addressing some of the growing and alarming instances of antisemitism in America. With a foundation of knowledge, the hope is that students, faculty, and staff may feel better equipped to begin to be allies and accomplices.
"The Category is Love!" by Mitch Kohn, Audrey G., and Lina G.-D. - By using the power of story to highlight LGBTQ+ identity on campus, this symposium will span many generations. Mr. Kohn, Audrey G. and Lina G.-D. share their experiences from the 1970s through today, and include movie clips, music, important political achievements, recent Supreme Court decisions, and transgender experiences - especially women of color. Presenters will use this space to celebrate influential change-makers.
"Waking Up Is Hard to Do" by Benj Hewitt - White. Male. Heterosexual. Ivy-League Educated. From his position at the intersection of great privilege, Mr. Hewitt traces his ongoing journey from what he thought he knew from growing up in Berkeley, CA, the seeming cradle of progressive idealism, to the realization of how much his straight, white male lens limited––and still limits––his understanding of how the world works.
In an effort to continue building upon Dr. King’s legacy of service to the community, the Office of DEI partnered with The Valley of Change to develop a daily calendar filled with action opportunities.