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Forum on Race Gives Students a Platform for Growing Empathy

By Geneva Vang, YWCA Contact Plus Youth Counselor
March 27, 2018
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Last month, seventy-five high school students joined together for the annual Forum on Race, hosted by YWCA Minneapolis’ Contact Plus program and Patrick Henry High School. The group discussed this year’s theme: Acknowledging, Unlearning and Dismantling Racism.

The Everyday Impact of Race

The purpose of the Forum on Race is to engage with youth about the impact of race in their everyday lives. The youth participated in activities and engaged in meaningful conversations with their peers and facilitators.

Throughout the day, students learned about different racial experiences. The students watched short videos about the life experiences of people who identified from African American, Latinx, Native American and Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. After each video, the students discussed the themes and issues that came up, and shared their reactions in small groups.

Unlearning Stigmas, Growing Empathy

At this forum, youth become better aware of the stigmas that can challenge their personal identities and about the stigmas that challenge their peers from other marginalized communities. It’s an event that empowers students – they see what kind of similarities they have with each other and gain a better understanding of where other people are coming from.

This forum gives students a platform they wouldn’t otherwise have – students who previously had a hard time discussing these subjects felt comfortable sharing and conversing with the group. It’s an opportunity for students to learn and discuss the impact of race, and in the long run, the goal is to help students stay open to multiple perspectives and grow empathy for themselves and others in marginalized communities.

Contact Plus

Over 200 students each year learn about healthy choices in relationships and life through YWCA’s Contact Plus program. This was the seventh year this forum was held for youth at Patrick Henry High School.