SRJ hosts anti-racism training

SRJ hosts anti-racism training

Eris Rindt, Newtonian Social Media Manager

The club Students for Racial Justice (SRJ) hosted an anti-racism training during the three days of Jan. 14, 15 and 16. The training was held in the library of NHS due to the space being a comfortable and spacious setting according to the club’s sponsor, math teacher Ester Koontz. In total, there were six students in attendance at the training.

The three days that the training was held was the weekend prior to Martin Luther King Jr day. The training was held in hopes of improving the racial divide, along with helping students understand what people of color are facing. The training had five different speakers, each speaker was part of Roots of Justice, a nonprofit organization. Roots of Justice mission, according to their website, is to educate and give tools to people to help stop discrimination based on race.

“I decided to go to this training because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to learn more about myself, our school, and other worldly problems,” freshman Mara Oswald said. “I knew that it would offer lessons that I had never before been taught, so I was immediately drawn to it. I also attended the training to learn what steps our club and school could take to make this place a safer environment.”

While the training primarily focused on racial discrimination, it also focused on issues such as racism being mixed with issues such as homophobia. The NHS handbook focuses on a variety of different issues when it comes to discrimination and bullying. Included in the handbook is information on where harassment can be reported. 

[At the training, I] learned about how racism affects BIPOC and how it is in our institution,” senior Derica Mercer said. “Learning about how racism is intertwined with sexism, homophobia, cis-sexism and other isms.”

On page four of the Newton High Handbook there is an explicit Notice of Non-Discramtion. The notice describes any kind of discrimination is prohibited in the school environment and will be dealt with by the superintendent. The handbook also includes a more detailed description of the policy on racial discrimination.

We really need to work on how our school acknowledges and tries to prevent racism in our school. We also need to change some policies we have that deal with racism or that are just racist and need to be corrected,” freshman Natalie Neufeld said.

The SRJ club meets twice a month, during their meeting following the training they talking about what the training attendees learned. SRJ sponsor Koontz has hopes to send more students to the training each year. 

I plan on attending this training again in the future,” Oswald said. “This training was very beneficial to myself, I learned a lot about myself and institutionalized racism so I would love to go again and learn more. Maybe things would be better by the time I went again.”