By Isabel Anderson, grade 10 LSS student
Racism happens everywhere; in workspaces, in communities, and even in schools. At Ladysmith Secondary School, we speak up against racism and educate students and staff on what it is.
Recently at LSS, we decided to focus on educating people about what racism is, how to speak up against it and how to support each other. One way we’ve found to do this is through a group called Students Taking Action Against Racism, STAAR. While the acronym is not original to LSS, the group started at Ladysmith Secondary over ten years ago but it stopped running when the sponsor teacher left.
“We started it again this year out of student need and student activism. Noticing that we didn’t have a place where students could share their experiences or that we weren’t addressing racism in ways where the whole school is involved,” said Moira Dolen, LSS STAAR teacher sponsor.
The group consists of concerned students, supported by four sponsor teachers, who are trying to make LSS a better place. They are working to draw attention to racism, white privilege and racial stereotypes present in the school and community, and attempting to offer tools to help address these issues on a person-to-person basis.
Because of the way our society was built by the European colonists, “people who are white have privilege because the majority of people who are in power are usually from that white background… Racism is prevalent in our everyday lives,” added Stefania Rosioru, LSS STAAR teacher sponsor. “STAAR isn’t going to totally abolish all of the subversiveness of racism that exists in our society, but it is definitely looking at the racism that we see every day.”
STAAR held a presentation in mid-May explaining what racism is and how to stand up against it. Following the presentation, students received a pocket guide explaining how to be an ally by giving them steps to take and strategies to use when confronting racism.
“The STAAR presentation was not just about what racism is. It was really about how we can be allies,” explained Ms. Dolen.
When someone is being racist at school, there are consequences. LSS principal Dave Travers said there are serious consequences for racist behaviour at the school.
“We want to make sure the victim is taken care of and that the perpetrator is educated,” he said. “Parents and the RCMP are sometimes involved. In some cases, there might be a suspension, but ideally we want reconciliation.”
At Ladysmith Secondary School, we teach about racism and do our best to prevent it. We continue to remind students and staff how each of us can play a part to promote tolerance. Racism isn’t going to go away, but we can minimize it here at LSS.