The high school’s third annual “Day of Courage” began with the “Telling Your Story” blocks, A and B. Students packed into the Roberts Dubbs Auditorium the morning of Thursday, Dec. 15 so they could listen to their peers share their experiences regarding race and ethnicity.
First to speak was senior Carina Feeney, who spoke of the insensitivity that young kids can have towards others and the pain she felt when she participated in making jokes about her own culture or trying to be somebody she’s not in order to fit in. Feeney said she never wanted to have to feel excluded again after she had been bullied in elementary school because of her racial identity.
“I stayed away from the sun during the summer to keep my skin pale for the white parts in ballet,” Feeney reflected on her attempts to be seen as white.
Afterwards, juniors Karina Lorenzo and Raven Bogues shared a powerful poem entitled “Letters from Two Girls who’ve Had Enough.” The dynamic and forceful reciting received so many cheers and so much applause during that the girls had to stop several times to let the crowd quiet back down.
Contributed by Isabel Lobon
“So you may assume my house is trash and rented, but you’d be wrong. You’d be succumbing to the stereotypes this country has thrived on for so long. See, because my mother worked hard for what we had. When she was young, she saved all the money her job would allow and she bought the house that I live in now. She is proud to say that she is the first in our family to make such a purchase, and in my eyes, that accomplishment will always be ageless,” Bogues said, defiling stereotypes.
“To feel equal, do you truly know what that means? To feel like I truly belong in a world where my skin color is rooted in hate, where my ancestors had to struggle just to put food on a plate and a floor to kneel and pray on,” Lorenzo said about the history of oppression towards Latinos.
Senior Tyra Pierre also recited a powerful poem about the oppression of Black people in this country throughout history. Many of her lines were met with cheers, applause and snaps from the audience.
Junior KJ McCauley shared his personal story about being a biracial student, eventually finding solace when coming to Brookline. McCauley said that growing up, he felt that it was nearly impossible to be a mixture of Black and White, either people would call him Black, White or nothing.
Next, senior Valentina Rojas-Posada spoke about her struggle to be Latina and successful in school in a world in which the only successful people she saw around her where White.
“When they want somebody who is presentable ethnic. We are the ones on the college brochures,” Rojas-Posada said pertaining to students of color who have “adapted to the white education system” and are used to give the semblance of diversity.
She also spoke about the war that had been tearing her home country of Colombia apart for the past half a century, a war that most people in the audience, she believed, didn’t know about.
Sophomore Ben Haber came next and provided the perspective of White Privilege in these issues. He reflected on how in middle school, he grew up with his clique of friends who all had racial nicknames for each other, calling him “White trash.”
“Racism is not black or white, but a rainbow of oppression,” Haber said.
Haber said he believes that racism and ethnicity should be taught about from middle school so that kids do not do the things he and his friends used to do and can be educated before getting to high school. That is why he is trying to kick start a committee with sophomore Vishni Samaraweera to get students involved and aware of racial identity issues and stereotypes.
Finally, juniors Iman Khan and Nada Alaeddin spoke about the terrifying increase of Islamophobia in the country. Khan and Alaeddin also educated the audience on the strength Muslim women have.
“We have the power to choose what you can or cannot see,” Khan said. “We have the freedom. We have the control.”