Oppression happens. So, what can students do? How can young people become upstanders (people who stand up for social justice and equality) in their communities?
The webinar speakers — Mary Hendra, who leads the Los Angeles program team for Facing History and Ourselves; Jon Lego, who teaches at Animo Jackie Robinson High School in Los Angeles; Emily Weisberg, a program associate for Facing History and Ourselves; Andrew Slack, co-founder of the Harry Potter Alliance; Milton Reynolds, a senior program associate for Facing History and Ourselves in the San Francisco Bay Area; and Eran DeSilva, a teacher and director professional development at Notre Dame High School in San Jose — offered examples of student upstanders and advice on how educators can encourage young people to take on causes they feel passionate about and how to go about it in today’s digital and physical world.
Some insights from the speakers:
“Civic engagement is not a process or an event, but rather a way of living. It really is about engaging and doing. Civic agency comes from being able to ask questions that lead to opportunities to engage. Students should develop the ability to think critically about history and about themselves in the context of history.”
— Milton Reynolds
“Students are passionate, engaged and aware of what is going on in the world around them, but then they say, ‘now what?’ Students who are upstanders care about the world around them.”
— Eran DeSilva
“It’s about helping our students see both big and small acts contribute to being an upstander. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a big act of social activism. It could be the way that you treat somebody who sits next to you in class or the way that you treat your family or friends. Small acts have large impact.”
— Emily Weisberg
“Find where your heart breaks and allow your heart to break open. … To succeed in any purpose, you need the three Ps — patience, persistence and pizzazz. We need to bring them all together. Required reading for all students should be Martin Luther King’s last book, ‘Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?’ specifically the last chapter where he talks about how the game has changed. It may as well have been written in 2015. It’s more relevant now, about how we’re all neighbors now and it’s unavoidable, which is why I think there is a power in the virtual space and how there’s an obligation that the U.S. has to creating broadband access for everyone. Also, there’s an obligation for us educators to embrace that, to co-organize together, as well as an obligation of those organizing in the virtual space to bring it to the local community.”
— Andrew Slack
Banner image credit: Aimee Lindell