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Carrying Hope Back to High School – Students Attend It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race™

By YWCA Minneapolis and Kari Anderson Slade, health teacher and health careers coordinator at Roosevelt High School
September 13, 2019
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For the past two years, Roosevelt High School students have attended It’s Time to Talk: Forums on RaceTM through event scholarships. In the Q&A below, Roosevelt High School teacher, Kari Anderson Slade, shares how it has been a meaningful, powerful experience for her students.

How did you first get involved with YWCA Minneapolis and It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race?

I got involved with YWCA Minneapolis and It’s Time to Talk by participating in their racial justice trainings in downtown Minneapolis, after the Trayvon Martin murder and lack of conviction of George Zimmerman – as well as countless other young men we have lost. Being the mother of a young son, I was emotionally drawn to work towards racial justice more.

When I heard about the It’s Time to Talk event, I wanted to pull my students into this experience to directly and creatively talk about race, racism and its effects on our lives, school experience, life plans, career choices and more.

Young person speaking at a table with others listening

What has been memorable for the students attending It’s Time to Talk?

What we hear and talk about at It’s Time to Talk is extremely relevant and noticeably different from a typical classroom setting. Seeing the students nod their heads while their life experiences and instincts are affirmed by the speakers is priceless and so significant, especially as they hear messages that may oppress, question or ostracize their identities in their world outside of It’s Time to Talk.

“The students are blown away by how elegant and fancy the luncheon is – which gives the content a sense of importance to them. That paired with seeing the volume of people in the Twin Cities who care about racial justice is powerful!”

The first luncheon we attended, they looked at me and asked me why I hadn’t told them – they would have dressed up!

I’ve noticed the students who attend the event have a stronger connection to the content I teach afterward. It’s Time to Talk sees them, hears them, speaks to them and allows us to carry that hope back to school and our lives!

How have you incorporated ideas from the event into school?

Last year, we collected a list of questions, takeaways and action steps with the students after the event. Here are just a few of those ideas:

  • It is crucial to celebrate all cultures the way we have done with some (assemblies, celebration months, education about culture, etc.)
  • We need to work on breaking down the barriers that keep us in ethnic or racial cliques – possibly mix it up days in the lunchroom?
  • Students’ voices are honored at It’s Time to Talk; how can we do this more in school so students can be authentically central in their education

What does it mean to you and the students to have been scholarship recipients?

We would absolutely not be able to attend without scholarships. The generosity of those that provide scholarship funding makes this experience possible. It allows for equity in who can attend – and who is seen as important members of our community who should be literally “at the table”!

Donate to the Racial Justice Scholarship Fund

Register for It’s Time To Talk: Forums on Race