Our Mission in Action

Disrupting Systems of Power and Oppression

Student Government’s Vice President of Programming Gisell Rondon
We interrupted this regularly programmed school day for #ithappenshere. To explain what this day is about, we asked a guest writer – Gisell Rondon, our Student Government’s Vice President of Programming, to talk a little about #ithappenshere, and how she and other students were involved in the planning.
From Gisell -
“#ithappenshere is a day where we talk about topics of systems of power and oppression and how those systems impact our identities and lives inside and outside of the LREI community. We do #ithappenshere to emphasize that even within LREI, we perpetuate the same systems of oppression that exist outside of our school. It's important to recognize that as a community we must have conversations about the ways these systems of power are prevalent within our classrooms in order to target them and create a safer LREI community.
This year is exciting because we decided to create a committee of students dedicated to social justice and community outreach within the school. This panel includes the leaders of all affinity groups within the High School. By having this panel, we get a wide variety of perspectives and create an environment where we work together and challenge each other to help plan these complex conversations. As a panel, we met every week to plan the schedule for the day, the themes we wanted to discuss, and the ways in which we wanted to engage our student body in a productive and effective way. We used our experience as students and leaders in our community to encourage our peers to lead workshops and tackle difficult conversations. We are also facilitating many of the discussions and help make sure the day runs smoothly for our student body.”
We began our day all together in the PAC, where members of the planning group framed the day. Students signed up to participate in a workshop or workshops around topics that they were interested in engaging with. Below is a list of those workshops. Hearing the students talk about what they discussed was empowering – from wanting to hear more from a more conservative perspective, to the power of a story exchange, digging into toxic masculinity, to seeing the intersection of race and gender in the world of STEM, exposing the dangers of "faux activism", to debunking the myth of the model minority, and so much more. 
The 4 C’s are alive and well! Workshop leaders got creative about the topics they wanted to explore and the ways in which they could engage the community. Students thought critically about challenging issues in society, were good citizens through their active participation, and were courageous in leaning into those discussions. We ended the day thinking about what actions we would each take to make the world a more just and equitable place – the embodiment of our mission. Please read below for the workshop descriptions.

The first step in fighting systems of oppression is acknowledging that “It Happens Here!”

Our collective acts of justice as a community allow us to address racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, religious-based bigotry and many other forms of marginalization and discrimination. Acknowledging how we influence and perpetuate these systems in our everyday lives, both at school and at home, is the foundation for doing this work together.
In order to burst the bubble that we are a part of, as members of a progressive institution that consistently promotes equity and equality, we cannot rest when it comes to examining how these systems affect us all in and out of the classroom. Here at LREI, we tend to rely on the school’s progressive mission without taking action to affirm our values.
We, the student planning committee of #ItHappensHere, believe that
  • it is important to invest in these conversations and lean into discomfort rather than opting out
  • it is important to get at the root of harmful words and actions
  • it is important to work collectively rather than in silos or for self-aggrandizement (i.e., compete over who is more “woke”). Our collective action and respect for each other will lead to greater results.
We want to acknowledge systems of oppression and understand our role in making LREI a place of effective social justice and liberation. For these reasons, we invite everyone to share their voices during sessions whether you are a leader or a participant. We wish to cultivate an environment where people feel comfortable calling each other in for the collective work to happen..
For these reasons, #ItHappensHere hopes to be a transformative and powerful experience for everyone.
Below, please find a line-up of sessions designed to engage us all in reflection and action on the most critical issues that face us at LREI and beyond. You have the choice between signing up for 1 two-hour session OR 2 one-hour sessions.
*Indicates affinity workshops. Please only sign up for these if you identify.
Men of Color*
Arturo Acevedo
Gender and its conception as a form of cultural, masculine, and heterosexual hegemony creates unique challenges for men of color. Heterosexual hegemony also known as toxic masculinity creates essentialized stereotypes that influence how men of color are expected to behave. Such forces continue to have negative and often destructive effects on men of color. This workshop seeks to unearth how toxic masculinity affects male identifying persons of color, allowing for a safe space to critically analyze how this form of oppression manifests itself on a daily basis.
Moving Through White Guilt*  
Pat Higgiston & Allison Isbell
Talking about race can bring up a lot of feelings that are hard for white people to navigate -- especially guilt. Guilt can feel like anger, sadness, or confusion, but no matter what it blocks us from thinking and listening. This workshop is for white people who want help staying present when the discussion turns to the current struggles of people of color, but feel blocked by guilt. We’ll address how white guilt intersects with other identities (gender, class, sexual orientation, etc.) and we’ll emphasize practices that you can use in your day-to-day life in school and other communities you belong to.
Story Exchange: Fearless Hope through Radical Empathy
Chap & Mark Silberberg
            Stories are power. The earliest humans knew it. We know it. Stories are the way we embrace our deep-seated need to make sense of our lives and the lives of others. In stories, we invite listeners to the spark of “what-if” that can lead to action. Stories develop our skills to listen, to tell, to take perspective, to reclaim our own narrative, and to communicate with one another. Stories build community. This workshop will use the Narrative 4 story exchange experience. Narrative 4 is a global organization that fosters empathy by breaking down barriers and shattering stereotypes through the exchange of stories across the world. Narrative 4 is developing a generation of empathetic leaders and citizens. This workshop will also ask you to become part of a greater narrative – the need to integrate social and emotional learning opportunities more deliberately into our work as a school community in order to increase our collective potential for understanding and learning. Join us for an experiential workshop that illustrates the power and effectiveness of the story exchange and a discussion of how we can turn empathy into action.
Ableism: Accountability & Access
Chloe Asnes & Maya Gavant
In this workshop we will explore the ways in which ableism is perpetuated both inside and outside the walls of LREI. We want to further open up the often-silenced discussion surrounding people who are differently abled, both mentally and/or physically. This includes mental health, learning differences, neurological and physical differences as well as framing our overall language in an inclusive and positive light. We would like to address and deconstruct the stigmas and stereotypes, such as: assuming differences are visible, presuming mentally or physically differently-abled people need “help,” able-bodied people failing to check their privileges, and many more. Additionally we hope to explore the ways in which ableism intersects with other systems of oppression such as classism, sexism, and racism. We hope to see you there!
Adoptee POV
Zoey Arongino, Ava Rome & Joy Piedmont
            Adoptees form a community of unique individuals with a few shared experiences and a wide variety of others. There is no “typical” adoption story. The presenters, who are all transracial adoptees, will identify and describe the different kinds of adoptions and specifically focus on transracial (children adopted by parents of a different racial identity) and transnational adoption (children adopted by parents in a different country). How does being raised in a white family affect a transracial adoptee? How is their experience similar or different from other adoptees and other people of color? We’ll examine these questions, discuss common microaggressions, and we’ll identify and disprove stereotypes and myths about adoption.
Being Politically Correct vs. Censorship
Amari Fogle & Josh Parness
Many people confuse political correctness with a censorship of opinions. In this workshop, we will explore what constitutes censorship and what being politically correct really means. We will examine and discuss the gray areas of conversation and freedom of expression in relation to the impact of one's words.
The Dangers of Faux Activism: What does it mean to be “fake woke?”
Destiny Benson & Leilani Sardinha
            We hope to explore how fake activism is detrimental and counteractive to good activist work. By fake activism we mean approaching social justice work in a lazy manner, for example, tweeting or posting about movements but knowing little about the topic or letting your work end there, also known as "Slacktivism." Another part of this is intersectionality, and the lenses that are often missing when it comes to this work. We want to work with, and educate our peers about ways they perpetuate systems of oppression when they marginalize people within activist movements, if they don't have this missing intersectional sense.
“Family Matters”
Ellana Lawrence, Labeebah Subair & Scekem Wells
            Have you ever thought about how your identity affects the way your family operates? In this workshop, we will be evaluating the many noninclusive expectations that society has prescribed for the 'perfect family' and exploring our individual families. We will also discuss the varied definitions of family. Join us to discuss family matters, and their relation to systemic oppressions that permeate our society!
I’m White. What Now?*
Jane Belton & Heather Brubaker
            Are you new to thinking about your racial identity? Do you hear terms like white privilege or implicit bias and wish you understood more about them? Does talking about race feel scary or uncomfortable? Do you want to learn more about what you can do as a white person to address injustice? This interactive workshop is a good fit for white-identifying students who are entering these conversations for the first time or want to review the basics.
Intersectional Judaism*
Les Davidson, Emily Lu & Camilla Yohn-Barr
            This workshop is intended to be an affinity space for Jews who have other marginalized identitiesa that often go unrecognized in mainstream American Judaism (for example, Jews of color, LGBT+ Jews, disabled Jews, adopted Jews, etc.). We want to examine our place in the Jewish community and beyond, and the way that our Jewish-ness intersects with the other communities we belong to. Judaism is a unique and complex ethno-religion, especially when you consider the multiple facets of identity. We want to create a space for intersectional Jews to explore how they understand themselves in relation to their Jewish identity and how that overlaps with other aspects of their identity that may be marginalized by our society, or even by the Jewish community itself.
The Model Minority Myth
Kalli Jackson & Kayli Mediratta
            We will be debunking the myth that Asians are the "model minority" by examining the ways Asians are discriminated against in America. We will also talk about the history of anti-Asian sentiment in America and how it still affects the Asian community today.
Race and Gender in STEM
Erika Nally & Lola Picayo
In this workshop, we will explore the intersection of race, gender and STEM fields. Our hope is to bring to light the erasure of many who have been vital members of countless innovations and discoveries in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. If you're interested in STEM, want to learn more about systems of oppression in this line of work, or just want to hear about some awesome historical discoveries, join our workshop!!
Sexual Harrassment in Schools & the #MeTooK12 Movement
Stella Belt, Chloe Kellison, Lulu Obaditch, Sophia Stewart-Chapman & Eve van Rens
            Sexual harassment in schools has now been the subject of a new social media hashtag called #MeTooK12. In this workshop, we will review some of the leading articles about how schools across the country are addressing sexual harassment. We will take an intersectional approach to reading these articles and learn how we can support students across the country and at LREI in their activism. We want to support a continued conversation about sexual harrassment at LREI because #ItHappensHere.
Toxic Masculinity
Miles Dorsey & Bruce Doyle
            This workshop will revolve around exploring what toxic masculinity is, its dangers, and how we perpetuate it at school. We will delve into examples, explore what toxic masculinity means in relation to LREI, and look at the institutions in our every day lives that perpetuate it. Our goal is not to solve the issue, but rather to address it and inform us all of its presence as well as offer concrete ways we can improve our community.
Dariel Fernandez, Gisell Rondon & Nicolas Simbaqueva
            Ever thought about going on a Rustic Pathways trip? Did you or a friend take a service trip to Costa Rica or Mexico for a couple of weeks? Have you seen the pictures of white celebrities with young, poor children of color? Then you are familiar with service trips, also known as voluntourism. If you want to explore and learn as to why these kinds of things can be damaging to the places that they are meant to help then join us.
Little Red School House
and Elisabeth Irwin High School

LREI. Powered By Questions.

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