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Racism does exist in Delta, say students

Members of school district anti-racism committee speak out on United Nations’ International Peace Day

Summer Jaffer, Tyson Lingham and Adrielle MacFarlane are not only trying to make a difference in their schools, but in their hometowns too.

The trio are students who are part of Delta School District’s Anti-Racism Committee that is leading the way in assisting schools throughout the city to work on their own anti-racism strategies.

That includes collaborating with filmmaker Kama Sood last spring to develop a number of videos to spark school-wide conversations about anti-racism, and help direct action against racism in their schools.

On Wednesday (Sept. 21), the students were invited to speak at the Tsawwassen Rotary Club’s 2022 Community Peace Builder Award ceremony that is held annually on the United Nations’ International Peace Day. This year’s theme is “End racism. Build peace.”

Jaffer, a Grade 12 student at South Delta Secondary, admitted he initially didn’t think there was a reason to be involved.

“When I see Tsawwassen. I see a nice calm and safe neighborhood with lots of places to like. However, the one thing I don’t see is diversity. Growing up I was the only ‘brown kid’ on my hockey team and one of a few ‘brown kids’ in my school,” said Jaffer. “Last year, when I was asked to be part of the anti-racism committee, I initially declined. Then I stepped back and looked at the bigger picture.

“I started to think maybe it’s more of a problem than I had thought. We started by having tough conversations at our school and found more people to join our team. We have learned a lot this year and we’re excited to learn more.”

Lingham added racism comes in all shapes and sizes.

“It can be subtle or it can be blatant. Either way it’s still there,” said the SDSS Grade 12 student. “It’s about becoming aware of what we do and say to combat racism.”

MacFarlane, a Grade 10 student at North Delta’s Burnsview Secondary, says people can be racist without even knowing it.

“In my personal experience, I have learned that racism is embedded in our communities, and that people do not even realize that they are being racist. I have learned a new term, modern racism and it consists of micro-aggressions that stem from people’s ignorance towards minorities. They claim that they have absolutely no biases or that they are quote unquote ‘colorblind’ and that there is no racism in our society. These are examples of how modern racism is prevalent in our community today.”

To learn more about the Delta School District’s Anti-Racism Committee’s work and their message visit https://deltalearns.ca/antiracism/.

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