Teens From Two D.C. Schools — One Public Charter, One Private — Hold Tough Conversations on Race

 Photo Credit: Mikaela Lefrank / WAMU.org
Photo Credit: Mikaela Lefrank / WAMU.org

According to Mikaela Lefrak of WAMU.org, a coordinated meeting between students from the entirely minority Cesar Chavez Public Charter School and overwhelmingly white and private Maret School school was held to discuss differences in race and politics.

The meeting was created by teacher Ayo Magwood, who taught at Cesar Chavez before coming to Maret. It is the culminating event in a yearlong program she thought up during the contentious presidential campaign. “I was very concerned whether young people would be able to grow up and talk across difference and understand each other,” Magwood said. “I was really just struck by the fact that many of these young people have zero contact with each other.”

According to a study from the University of California in Los Angeles, D.C.’s schools show evidence of the city’s racial and economic disparities. 71 percent of black students in D.C. public and charter schools have virtually zero white classmates. Cesar Chavez has no white students.

The group gathered around a picnic table on and dove into an hour-long conversation on race and stereotyping.

“Getting out of your own neighborhood can sort of show you the differences,” said Maret 10th grader Callan Daniel.

“I just believe there’s no such thing as race,” added Cesar Chavez junior Angel Anderson. “It’s just a label.”

“Differences are ok, but since we make people benefit from the differences, and we put people in bad places because they’re different from others, that’s when it becomes a bad thing,” responded Maret 10th grader Jhurney Hairston.

“I know a lot of people from Southeast that are, like, really nice, and they don’t do a lot of bad things,” said Cesar Chavez junior Anjel Johnson. “And not everybody up here [at Maret] is bougie.”

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