Equity and Diversity Collaborative: Efforts to Educate

Staff

The Equity and Diversity Collaborative is a group of students and staff who are committed to making Hart a more safe and inclusive space for all students. The committee was established at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, and as outlined by members of the group, the goals are as follows:

  • Create open lines of communication for students to talk about difficult conversations without prejudice
  • Identify and address weaknesses in inclusivity at our school site
  • Spread awareness and how topics can be hurtful to people, in turn how people can handle those topics
  • Provide education and work toward inclusiveness on all topics

One of our action steps is to encourage members of the student body to share their stories related to inclusion and diversity. In other words, what have you learned about anti-racism and anti-prejudice over the years that you would be willing to share with the Hart student body?

Each month, on behalf of the ED Collaborative, The Smoke Signal will be sharing a few stories submitted by Hart students and staff. The stories will aim to educate our school community about lessons we’ve learned over the years regarding equity, diversity, and inclusion. The goal is to work together to make Hart High School a more welcoming space for all individuals.

  • Over quarantine, one of my best friends has confided in me that they are non-binary. When I was talking to one of my family members about them, my family member kept saying she instead of they/them. I corrected them but my family member just kept saying the pronouns she/her. This experience has shown me that I need to use the pronouns my friend wants to be referred to no matter if I’m in person with them or not. I needed to learn and respect who they are. My vocabulary should be adjusted to refer to them with they/them pronouns now. My friend doesn’t want to have a label for themselves as she/her because they don’t feel feminine, nor do they feel masculine with the use of pronouns he/him. When I refer to them with the correct pronouns, the more they feel like themselves, as they have told me. Bella Clough (11)
  • There’s always more to people than what meets the eye. I always felt somewhat of an outcast because of some parts of my identity. I have a single mom. I attend a school where only about 2-3% of the student body identifies as Asian-American. It wasn’t until I participated in an activity called the Privilege Walk that I realized people were in the same boat as me. Seeing people struggling because of their identity traits immediately made me think, “Oh I had no idea that they…”. Not only did this five-minute activity teach me about the importance of identities, but it also taught me about the dangers of our assumptions. Emily Yoon (11)
  • Until freshman year, I wished I was white. I wished my eyes were a little bigger, my nose a little narrower and my skin a little lighter. I grew up in the heart of LA and attended a school rich in diversity, but later moved to an elementary school seemingly scarce of color. Though these schools were only 45 minutes apart, I was introduced to a completely different world. Cultures that were once celebrated were suddenly gone and it was difficult to adjust. My family and I didn’t fit in, resulting in waves of microaggressions and even full on acts of racism. I often felt alienated; a feeling I can credit for my years of internalized racism which were followed by years of unlearning it. I remember being eight years old and trying to lighten my skin with facial washes in my grandma’s bathroom. I remember being ten years old and staring at the mirror, trying to create a crease above my eyes, and I remember pinching my nose every night in hopes of changing its shape. I remember being 14 and telling my friends I wished I was white because fair skin and other Euro-centric features were the beauty standard. But two years later, I can’t imagine being anyone else. For years it was like my Asian-ness was just a fact I brought up when it was convenient because I didn’t accept it was me. Now I fully accept my identity and wouldn’t wish to be anyone else. I love my features even when they’re not a trend and I love my culture even when it’s unappreciated by others. It took so long for me to accept myself and my appearance, but I’m happy I finally did. Though Euro-centric features are beautiful, it’s important to recognize features of all races are beautiful as well. After all, the moon, the ocean and the mountains are all different, but they are all beautiful. Breeze Anne Aguilar (10)

If you would like to contribute, please send a paragraph or two explaining a lesson you’ve learned. Submissions can be sent to Breeze Anne Aguilar (99[email protected])