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s.t.a.r.t. Attends Dare 2 Be Real Youth Summit

May 18, 2013

s.t.a.r.t. Attends Dare 2 Be Real Youth Summit

s.t.a.r.t. Fired Up for Racial Equity:

On Friday, May 17, 2013, s.t.a.r.t. leaders attended the Annual Dare 2 Be Real Youth Summit at Barton Open School in Minneapolis.

The keynote speaker was rapper and activist Brother Ali who taught the students about three myths that give white privilege its teeth:
1) That the Civil Rights Movement was in the past;
2) That the Movement was geared toward somebody else; and
3) That some leader will solve it.

Brother Ali compared our country’s journey for civil rights to a 24-hour schedule with the time of slavery being from midnight to 3:00 p.m.; the battle for legal rights and desegregation as a period from 3:00-9:00 pm.; and the “time of post-racial” as 9:00pm to 4:00 a.m. He asked us to put the timeframe in perspective–rights have been in place for a very short period of time, and huge disparities still exist.

“We live in a nation built on systems,” said Brother Ali–“systems that continue to benefit one group of people over others.” Because of these systems, African Americans are three times more likely than whites to be born in poverty. “The idea of whiteness is a lie,” he said. “It has lowered the stock in our minds on humanity.  We’ve gotta get back to being a human being and break our colonial mind,” he said.  He cautioned white students that they do not need to provide charity, but to be allies in the struggle, which is “not just right, but we have a duty to do that.”

Brother Ali spoke of the recent Lincoln movie and how Lincoln was portrayed as the hero, with no mention of Frederick Douglass’ counsel to Lincoln.  “And Mrs. Lincoln was portrayed as crazy,” said Brother Ali.  “She wasn’t crazy.  She advised her husband to do the right thing.”

He encouraged students to read books, such as the following:  Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the U.S.;  Tim Wise’s White Like Me; James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time; and Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow.

Following inspiring presentations by Dare 2 Be Real Co-Creators Patrick Duffy and Anthony Galloway, with Patrick reminding the audience that “No Child is Born Racist,” students proceeded to workshops that included:  Art as a Tool for Change; SPEAK! Using Poetry for Change; Finding Your Voice; Lies My Teacher Taught Me, Owning Your Audience; Fired Up: Managing Disagreement and Reliving the Movement.

In the “Fired Up” session, students listened to 2Pac’s song Changes, with one student team debating that the world will never change; and the other arguing that the world will change for the better.  A third student team identified debate criteria, such as control, evidence, confidence and audience engagement.  The team asserting that the world is not changing received the most points!

In “Reliving the Movement,” high school seniors Korlu Borsay and Jennifer Afamefune from Armstrong High School in Plymouth led a session on their retracing the Civil Rights journey through Selma to Memphis.  Along with showing sites of their trip, including the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, they quizzed their fellow students on Civil Rights history through a Civil Rights Research Tour Quiz.  Questions included:  “What is Jacqueline Smith’s personal dream for the Lorraine Hotel?” and “In what city did the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education originate?”*

In their description of places visited, they also told the story of how Martin Luther King Jr. would always buy fresh flowers for Coretta when he traveled.  However, as he prepared to leave for Memphis, he gave her synthetic flowers instead, which made her angry.  Coretta King knew something was up when Martin Luther King told her, “Plastic flowers will last forever.”  The flowers still sit at the historic home of the King family in Atlanta, Georgia.

Korlu said that something she was never taught was that “It wasn’t just African Americans fighting for Civil Rights, because it’s not just called African American’s right to vote.  It’s called the Civil Rights Movement,” and there were a lot of ethnic groups, Latinos and Native Americans, that were fighting for the course…and if you were a white citizen sympathetic to the cause, you got terrorized that night…your house was bombed.”

The evening ended with Open Mic and students sharing their reflections of the day.  They were asked to share a six-word reflection on race such as “Race silences the truth we know,” and their R.E.P. (or racial equity purpose), such as “Raising the Youth Voice.”  Students shared their hopes and dreams for the future, including “breaking down this horrible illusion called race.”

*Jacqueline’s personal dream has been to convert the Lorraine Motel into sheltered housing or community center for the poor and displaced instead of a National Museum.   She has actively protested for over fourteen years to make this a reality .

On May 17, 1954, the United States supreme court stated the “segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon colored children.”  Brown v. Board of Education originated in Topeka, Kansas, where Linda Brown, a black 3rd grade student, had to attend a segregated elementary school located a mile from her home, even though she lived only a few blocks from a white elementary school.

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