The Harbinger Online

CELEBRATION NOT SEPARATION

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After public speaker Jane Elliott came to East to promote diversity and acceptance, students were up in arms regarding the fact that she went off on an unprecedented political tangent. Yes, Elliott spoke of politics in a very one-sided manner and did not speak very much of what students and faculty were expecting to be discussed—diversity. But we are missing the point.Our district is predominantly white. No, overwhelmingly white. 64 percent of students in SMSD  are white. We believe administration brought in Elliott not to have a revolution and attempt to bring in more minority students. There is nothing we can do about where we live. We believe administration brought in Elliott to help us recognize different types of people that are very prevalent outside of our SME and JoCo bubbles.We are here to say that everyone looks different—no matter the color of their skin. We all have physical traits that make us unique besides our skin color. Celebration Not Separation is here in hopes to express the differences in EVERY individual and to continue talking about the lack of exposure to differences in our school. We are trying to promote the differences that surround us rather than silence the discussion because we are afraid to acknowledge those differences.

This is us promoting our differences.

 

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CELIA FACE

 

Of course, it was a beauty understood as a 9-year-old, a beauty that a child had concocted out of ignorance and limited exposure. I grasped it like a lollipop between sticky fingers – this perfect world was mine, and I was reluctant to let it go.

Yet I did, but only after I took the time to discover why I needed to. As I looked further into the history of Kansas City and the neighborhood I live in, it became clear that my suburbia did not arise from barbecues and friendly neighbors. Its history, and the history of a few other notable neighborhoods around Shawnee Mission East, is racist and ugly. And though I can’t take responsibility for what occurred, I need to understand this past to prevent myself from ever holding the same racial prejudices my neighborhood was founded upon.

My mom showed me that my own home’s deed, signed in 1939, reads to this day that “None of the lots shown on said plat shall be conveyed, leased or given to, and no building erected thereon shall be used, owned or occupied by any person not of the white race.” While that policy is no longer legally enforceable, no one has taken the time to get the words removed from the deed, either. That’s why this all applies to me. It’s the history of where I live, and if I want the future of my neighborhood to be different than it’s past, I need to understand it.

On the surface, J.C. Nichols was the nationally-esteemed developer of the Plaza, Prairie Village Shops and most suburbs around those landmarks in the 1920s. However, according to Tanner Colby, author of “Some of My Best Friends Are Black,” Nichols used manipulative, racist tactics to convince white homeowners that they should live in suburbs, with the right type of people – wealthy, white and opposed to integration — because blacks were the root of the problems in the crumbling cities. His number one motto, Planning for Permanence, promised that his homes’ property values would never deteriorate because of this.

Pre-Nichols Kansas City was a relatively integrated place. According to Frank Gotham, author of “Race, Real Estate, and Uneven Development: The Kansas City Experience,” the average black resident in Kansas City in 1900 lived in an area that was 13 percent black – not 100 percent. So when Nichols introduced racial covenants to his suburbs, the change impacted Kansas City drastically. I still see the effect in my nearly-all-white neighborhood today.

In 1909, Nichols added the phrase “None of the said land may be conveyed to, used, owned, or occupied by negroes as owners or tenants” to the deed of each home he sold, according to Colby. This was a real estate covenant, or restriction, put in place by his private company but backed by law if it needed to be enforced.

Those covenants were so permanent that they lasted 25 years before they expired. On top of that, the ones in Mission Hills were self-renewing, meaning they would exist eternally unless a group of homeowners got together to put a stop to them.

In 1948, covenants were officially declared unenforceable in a court of law by the Supreme Court. That didn’t stop the permanence Nichols had planned for, though. I know that because I can look at the demographics of Prairie Village, Mission Hills and Fairway and still see almost no integration.

Prairie Village? According to 2015 census data, it’s 94 percent white. Mission Hills? 95 percent. And Fairway? Only three percentage points less than it would have been in the 1920s — 97 percent. Then, take a look at a map around Troost portraying racial populations. Using census data from 2010, the west side of the map is overwhelmingly white, and the east is overwhelmingly black.


CELIA PULL QUOTEThe racially-divided living areas that J.C. Nichols introduced to Kansas City 100 years ago are still in place today. We live in them, and we need to talk about them.

As the city diversified in the 1910s, Nichols began advertising to whites, subtly asking “Wouldn’t you and yours take pride in a home built in the Country Club District…where your children will get the benefit of an exclusive environment and the most desirable associations?” according to Colby.

That exclusive environment is where I grew up. To me, it was the land of Rhodadendron bushes in full bloom and lemonade stands sitting in vibrant green lawns in between those perfectly spaced, stately oaks. But those trees were ordered to be planted that way by the same person who ordered a group of people to live in a different part of town because of their skin color. I guess Nichols thought if he had power over where trees could be planted, he had power over where people could live.

And that’s what my 9-year-old self didn’t see or understand — the ugliness and hate of my neighborhood’s history. Of course, it was hard to see, because it is rarely acknowledged or taught, despite the fact that its legacy persists to this day. All I can promise to do is educate myself and others, and never, ever let the ideology of racially segregated living rub off on me. I grew up surrounded by symmetry of trees and symmetry of race, and it forced me initially into ignorance. That’s why this needs to change.

 

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MUHAMMAD FACESocial studies teacher David
Muhammad moved from Kansas City, MO to the Shawnee Mission South area of Overland Park when he was in third grade. They were the first black family in their neighborhood.

Growing up, Muhammad went to church and mosque. However, when he was 11 years old he made the decision to be just Muslim.

He went to get his teaching degree at Fort Scott Community College and Emporia State University. Both of which were predominately white institutions.

Prior to East he taught at Trailridge Middle School that, unlike East, has a large Hispanic population.

Now at East he has found himself as one of two African American teachers on opposite ends of the building amongst a school with a mere 32 African American students. He has been at East for the past seven years and has found that the “bubble” that comes along with the lack of diversity at East. Muhammad has found himself using his personal background leading the discussion about diversity at East through holding debates and taking part in the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

“I think because we don’t have a lot of cultural diversity, people assume it isn’t a problem,” Muhammad said. “But in a lot of cases it creates a bubble of insensitivity because people can say things without being checked.”

With no one around to tell a student something is offensive if appears acceptable they won’t be able to learn what they can and cannot say according to Muhammad. Being one of the few minority teachers, Muhammad feels like he sticks out at East, but he has used his unique perspective to encourage discussion through debates.

“I think that arms me with a different thought process because some teachers have never had to think about that, and in college we aren’t taught about how to talk about race and diversity and such,” Muhammad said. “My minority status has given me a different set of tools because I am already set up with the thought process for it, so when it is brought up I feel equipped to address it.”

Muhammad not only has facilitated dialogue on controversial issues at East, but has built close relationships with students through Coalition that have made that dialogue easier. Principal John McKinney thinks those relationships have been key in making students comfortable to have difficult conversations.

“You take the required classes and get the certification to become a teacher, but when you get into a classroom there is a difference between the information you are paid to convey and forming relationships to allow you to convey the information with relevance and meaning,” McKinney said. “That is a unique ability and Muhammad has found his calling and that makes for a really special learning environment for both the teacher and the student.”

Muhammad, being part of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, has taken part in organizing events such as the Troost Tour. This tour takes students down Troost Ave. to see the segregation of the Kansas City area. Senior Lydia Wickey has gone on the Troost Tour twice and has seen the impact Muhammad’s efforts have had on her and her peers.

“With his classes he teaches about real world struggles in terms of oppression that people who are not white face,” Wickey said. “He has brought in speakers and he fights to make us know that we live in a very privileged place.”

Though McKinney and Muhammad believe these events have been a success in giving students exposure to diversity, Muhammad still believes there is progress that needs to be made.

“I think we have definitely seen growth,” Muhammad said. “ I think you always want to see more cause for every forward something happens and you are like, ‘This is big. We have a lot to work on.’ When we first started this stuff, people were very much in the dark and were wondering why are we even talking about this.”

Muhammad believes that the first part of moving towards progress is having the conversation. Teachers sometimes have difficulty addressing these issues in fear that they will say something to offend someone, but Muhammad thinks that not saying anything at all is worse than the potential of saying something offensive. McKinney knows that taking on these issues is a challenge, but thinks that the conversations they will have could be very beneficial.

“It is kind of easy to say we aren’t going to talk about it,” McKinney said. “I think if students are open to pursuing a conversation around those difficult topics with a trusted adult in the building then I hope that teachers will be open to that.”

Muhammad has become that trusted adult for many students who have taken part in his debates, Coalition and events held by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee. His efforts have created strong relationships with his students, allowing him to pursue hard conversations about race. Muhammad’s strides have helped facilitate change in the East community.

 

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3.1English teacher Samantha Feinberg opened her class to a discussion following vandalization by a handful of South students. The offenders drew Swastikas and other vulgar images on the East shed by the football field.

“Anyone have any thoughts or want to talk about that?” Feinberg said.

She waits to see if anyone will want to speak up. The students talk about what they thought about the hate symbols and South rivalry, and when the conversation dwindles down, Feinberg asks again if anyone has anything else to say, waiting. And then she waits just  a minute longer to make sure even the shy girl in the back is satisfied with how the conversation ended.  

Feinberg strives to make her students feel safe to voice their opinion in class so they can benefit the most from their time in her room. She uses the idea of anti-oppressive education to aid her in this.

Feinberg learned about anti-oppressive education while working as a research assistant when she attended the the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Feinberg defines anti-oppressive education in two parts. The first she describes as changing teaching practices so that they are equally accessible to all students, regardless of their background, disability, race or anything else that could hold them back.

The second Feinberg characterized as teaching kids the forces in society that work to help some students and disenfranchise others, so they can recognize the access that they have to education.  

For Feinberg, being Jewish and part-Mexican sparked interest in the idea of non-discrimination in the classroom. Up until fifth grade, she went to a predominantly white, private Jewish school. Her first year in public school, which was much more diverse, was with Mrs. Conley, an African-American woman that wasn’t ashamed of her background. As Feinberg gathered articles on the subject while working as a research assistant, she read them all and became interested in the idea of how she could use that in her teaching.

“You won’t find a person better qualified to teach anti-oppressive thinking and incorporate it into the way she teaches as an English teacher,” principal John McKinney said

Feinberg uses the idea of anti-oppression in education to help smooth the path to a healthy learning environment in her class.

Starting on the first day in class each year, Feinberg forms through her speaking that everyone can be heard, diminishing the mindset that some people’s opinions are more important, and opening the door for difficult conversations that other teachers may not be willing to have.

Feinberg will take the time to get to know her students by asking about their weekend, their music choices or their art. She is willing to sacrifice five minutes of notes for a longer class discussion.

The day after the  2016 presidential election, Feinberg knew her students would have an opinion on the outcome, so she devoted class time to let students to voice their opinions about their feelings towards the election. Conversations became serious, and in one of her classes, students cried. Following the controversial Jane Elliot presentation in February, she dedicated time in class for talking about it, too.

Feinberg doesn’t mediate these discussions. All she asks is that students aren’t critical of people, but rather of ideas. She won’t push anyone change their mind or viewpoint, only that they consider the other side of an argument.

“You don’t feel like there’s pressure or you’re put on the spot or anything during discussions,” her student, senior Hayden Linscott said.  

Although these are serious topics, Feinberg enjoys learning about the her students’ views in a way outside of their writing.

“I learned just how to have fun with kids and how many different kinds of kiddos there are out there in the world,” Feinberg said, “And we don’t always have time for that in school, and if you don’t make time for that, then [there are] a lot of missed opportunities.”

Although some teachers may be wary to hold such hot-button topic discussions, Feinberg trusts in both her students and her ability to be respectful and isn’t worried that any outcome will be bad, as it never has since she started her first year of teaching; she has never been called in by administration, students have never opted out or been disrespectful.

The first school she taught at in Madison, WI was fairly diverse, according to Feinberg. So when Feinberg moved back to KC to work at Mission Valley Middle School, a much less diverse school, she felt prepared to work for all types of students. She tried to carry over her work in anti-oppressive education when she moved back to KC, but felt ignored.

“I would try to insert my multicultural randomness from time to time, but nobody really cared,” Feinberg said.

Once she came to East five years ago though, she connected with David Muhammed, an African-American Muslim teacher at East.

Muhammed and Feinberg used to joke around with each other that neither of them had a place of belonging since she is a part-Mexican Jew and he’s a black Muslim. Their friendship formalized when Muhammed invited her to a teacher’s book study at Johnson County Libraries. Soon, Wyandotte High School contacted them about doing work with diversity and inclusion and the two were eager to bring inclusion to East.

With support from McKinney, they formed the Diversity Inclusion Committee, which became a new outlet for Feinberg spread anti-oppressive education and multiculturalism at East.  

“I believe in the power of education but I first have to admit that there are barriers to equal access,” Feinberg said. “And to destroy those barriers you have to first account for those barriers and understand them.”

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REAMI FACESenior Reami Boone walked the dimly-lit halls of East for the first time in 2012, as an eighth grade shadow from Academy Lafayette.

Academy Lafayette is a French Language Immersion Public Charter School and is known for its diversity. Boone was in a class with 45 other students, 10 of which were African American, including herself.

“In the grand scheme of things that doesn’t seem very big,” Boone said. “But when you have 45 classmates, half the kids in your class will be black and you’ll be able to interact with them.”

When Boone started her freshman year at East, her main focus as a freshman was making friends. She found her niche with the cheer squad.  Boone was one of three minorities on the team – two of them being Hispanic. Boone believes she was one of the first African American cheerleaders East had seen in several years.

“I would get the occasional ‘you’re the only black cheerleader,’ or ‘I noticed you because you’re the only black cheerleader,’” Boone said. “But I liked the recognition because I like being talked about and being seen in the highlight.”

After two years, Boone lost her passion for cheer and quit the team, although she still stays in touch with her past team mates.

Boone continued making new friends her freshman year and got involved in other activities such as the legal studies program and forensics.

“I got involved in the diversity and inclusion union, the political debates, and I would stick up for people I knew were getting harassed based on the color of their skin,” Boone said.  REAMI PULL QUOTE

Social studies teacher and one of the union leaders David Muhammad said Boone got very involved with things like the confederate flag debate, Troost bus tower, and social media campaigns.

“We would try to raise awareness for different issues, especially cultural issues,” Muhammad said.

Boone can go an entire class period being the only minority student, which was a big factor of her decision to go a historically black college university.

“I want to experience my culture with other people who look like me, who talk like me, who have experienced things like me,” Boone said. “I am thankful for this opportunity because I am able to go to an HBCU and I think it was the right choice for me to make.”

Along with receiving many congratulations throughout the year thanks to her involvement in diversity awareness at East, Principal McKinney has been a big supporter of Boone for the past four years.

“You could talk to someone else about diversity and they could say I wish East was more diverse, I wish I fit in better,” Boone said. “But I like not fitting in because people listen to what I have to say.”

 

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ALEX FACE“Get out of my country!” Adam Purinton said to Indian immigrant Srinivas Kuchibhotla — right before he shot and killed him in Olathe on Feb. 27.

Kuchibhotla had a wife. He was an engineer at Garmin, a U.S. company. He lived here completely legally. He did nothing wrong — certainly nothing to warrant a death sentence — but he was murdered because of the color of his skin.

Kuchibhotla is far from the only person who’s been killed — or at least impacted — by a hate crime since Donald Trump’s election. In the days following Trump’s election, there was a sudden spike in hate crimes — 867 hate crimes in the first 10 days according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. A huge amount of these crimes were influenced by the victim’s race; one in three attacks targeted immigrants and one in five targeted African American citizens.

Statistics don’t lie. Acts of hate are becoming common, and many of them are racially motivated. And I blame Donald Trump.

That isn’t to say Trump makes people racist. I doubt I could find any evidence to support that, and it doesn’t make sense anyway. I don’t care how influential he is, he can’t change anyone’s morals.

He can, however, bring out the racism that already exists inside everyone. With every casual — or not so casual — racist comment, Trump triggers the prejudice that has been instilled in us since childhood.

Every single American needs to be working all the time to counteract this. We can’t expect Trump to change his ways. We can’t change others unless they want to be changed. But we still have to do something. We can’t just sit by and watch as human beings are marginalized. That’s why we need to start small; we need to change ourselves.

We all have racial prejudices. Sometimes they’re so small that we don’t even realize they exist until they’re pointed out to us, but we need to recognize them. And we need to smother them.

And when I say we, I mean all of us, myself included. If I see a young black man with loose jeans walking toward me, I’ll instinctively pull my purse closer to me. If I see a woman in a hijab, I immediately think, ‘Please don’t be an extremist.’  We’re all a little prejudiced, whether we want to admit it or not.

ALEX PULL QUOTEBut I know that this is wrong. Whenever I subconsciously do something based on my racial biases, I correct myself. I’m slowly trying to grow out of my instincts, because they’re based upon racist fallacies.

But this is getting harder and harder with every racist remark I hear. My whole life people have been teaching me inaccurate and offensive stereotypes for entire groups. I’ve even heard my friends argue that Muslims are inherently extremists. I’ve listened to Fox News reporters claim that the reason for racial profiling in the black community is because black people are just more violent than white people.

I disagree vehemently, but what I’ve overheard stays with me in the back of my mind.

I know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this. These words have changed how people see skin color. And, even though I’m not one of his supporters, it’s hard not to let Donald Trump’s statements impact the way I view race.

As high school students, there’s not much we can do to stop other people from committing racist hate crimes. We don’t have the influence or power to change the world’s views.

We can, however, work to eliminate the root of the problem. We’re all so focused on blatant, violent racism that we often sweep the casual racism in our daily lives under the rug. The root of these brutal, racist hate crimes is the ignorant thoughts we have and insulting actions we take without thinking.

And realistically, the seemingly small thoughts we have about different races are where Trump is most affecting us. He’s promoting the bias we’ve tried to keep suppressed all of our lives. He’s telling us that it’s okay – even good – to marginalize minorities and put races into boxes. So we need to tell everyone that he’s wrong.

This doesn’t mean you need make a sign, buy a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt or spend your weekends protesting. If you want to, that’s fantastic, but not everyone needs to do this. You don’t need to fill your Instagram with posts about how you support equality. It can’t hurt, but you don’t need to. You don’t even need to tell your friend not to make a dumb, offensive joke at the expense of minorities. You probably should, but I won’t tell you that you need to say anything.

There is one thing, however, that everyone needs to do in order to combat the Trump’s increasingly racist America. As corny as it sounds, start by making changes to yourself. Smile at the young black man you pass on the street instead of looking at the ground and walking faster. Sit near the Muslim woman in the waiting room and ask her how her day’s been. Make the conscious effort to open your mind.

Michael Jackson sang it almost perfectly: Start with the man in the mirror and force him to change his ways.

 

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The Diversity Club’s efforts have spread throughout Kansas City after their buddy program with Wyandotte High School flourished last year. The Johnson County libraries and other local high schools have taken notice of their work and decided to join. Club sponsor David Muhammad and fellow sponsor Samantha Feinberg met with the Johnson County library, St. Teresa’s Academy, Notre Dame de Sion and a couple of East parents this summer to plan this year’s events.

St. Teresa’s and Sion first took notice of Diversity Club’s initiative and sent representatives to East when author Tanner Colby spoke at East last year. In hopes of involving these schools and any others interested, East will be holding a conference at UMKC next April, and schools from around the Kansas City area will be invited. The morning will start with a Troost bus tour for all attending students, then students will come back to UMKC and be dispersed at tables with students from different schools to discuss Colby’s book, “Some of My Best Friends Are Black.”

To build up to the conference, students will be eased into tougher discussions throughout the year by first tackling these racial issues through fiction books. Starting Sept. 8, about 20 students from Diversity Club will read Greg Neri’s graphic novel “Yummy,” about a young boy in a South Chicago gang, then travel to Wyandotte to talk about the book with Wyandotte students. They will do the same with another book in October.

“Sometimes kids won’t just talk about these things,” Muhammad said. “But if they can discuss this character, then they can kind of hide behind the character…So by [the conference], we’ll have a group of kids who are very comfortable talking about these issues.4”

These authors are all being brought in and paid for by the Johnson County libraries, who approached East wanting to join.

Besides the outside expansion, Muhammad hopes to grow the club within East, mostly by word of mouth. Though he hand-picked students for field trips last year, he will be opening up events to more students and hopes to eventually get up to 60 students for one trip.

“What I want from these students is their willingness to be involved,” Muhammad said. “What I really want to see the students do is take what their learning from these experiences and help change the culture of East.”

 

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Jane Elliot visited East during seminar and at 7 p.m. on Thursday to discuss diversity. The seminar session was solely for students, while the 7 p.m. presentation was aimed towards the rest of the Northeast Johnson County community. Elliot is a nationally-known speaker who is famous for her “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes” experiment that teaches people what it’s like to be a minority.

Elliot was brought in by various sponsors, including the SME Diversity and Inclusion Committee as well as Principal John McKinney to discuss her experiment with the East community.

She was called on to speak to students about kindness, respect and the value of knowing someone beyond stereotypical external reasons, according to McKinney.

“I am absolutely in favor of having someone come into the school setting to talk about racism,” East parent Laura Goettsch said.

In addition to discussing diversity, Elliot spoke about her own political opinions. McKinney later emailed East parents apologizing for any distress the presentations caused.

“As a district, we do not insert political ideology or personal agendas into anything we present to our students, and we were unaware Ms. Elliot’s presentation would take this direction,” the email stated.

Whether positive or negative, McKinney acknowledges the conversations that were sparked.

“She has people talking,” Mckinney said. “Anytime you can get students talking in a respectful, courteous way, that’s a good thing.”

 

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Junior Laura Martasin has heard ‘Jew’ jokes since she was in the second grade. She’s been asked if a gold necklace she used to wear was a pot of gold, because she was Jewish. She’s heard Holocaust jokes on the bus, and she’s still attempting to ignore a ‘Heil Hitler’ April Fool’s Day “joke” she was snapchatted this year.

Senior Sarah Milgrim, who is also Jewish, hasn’t come in contact with a lot of what Martasin hears. Despite this, she’s still come across the occasional Holocaust joke, and her requests to celebrate Hanukkah — not Christmas — have been ignored by friends before. But she, and all who practice Judaism, live with the fact that their religion has been persecuted time and again through its centuries of existence.

These small reminders of historic injustices to East’s Jewish population were amplified when Shawnee Mission South students vandalized a shed at East in late February with anti-semitic symbols — three swastikas — and the statement “East loves Nazis.”

The shock and sadness that perpetrated the following Jewish Student Union (JSU) meeting led to the creation of the event “United Against Hate: Past, Present, and Prevention” on April 25 at East, which will raise awareness about ending anti-semitism.

“It was time to really step up to the plate, put ourselves out there, make us known,” Martasin, the JSU’s head of marketing, said. “Our reaction was more shocked and hurt and surprised that someone would actually do this. But in sad reality, we probably expected this, because stuff like this does happen a lot.”

The smashing of Jewish headstones as close as St. Louis and Philadelphia in February have shown that anti-semitic acts of aggression are not over in the United States. After seeing the vandalism, Milgrim was reminded of the increased security at her synagogue after the shooting at the Jewish Community Center three years ago, and how she now needs to scan an ID card just to enter. Anti-semitic vandalism at East fits into a larger picture, according to Milgrim.

Milgrim, left, and Martasin, right, work on posters for the event. Photo by Allison Stockwell

Milgrim, left, and Martasin, right, work on posters for the event. Photo by Allison Stockwell

East parent Steve Cole, a son of a Holocaust survivor, will be one of two speakers at the event.

“I do believe that in our culture, particularly now, there is a predisposition to divide and conquer and find differences in people,” Cole said. “And Jews are very wary of such a circumstance, because of the events of Nazi Germany.”

Cole will tell the story of his mother, Ilsa, who grew up Jewish in Geilenkirchen, Germany. In 1938, she fled with her fiancee to the United States, when Germany began to turn against Jews. In 1941, when the United States went to war against the Axis powers, Cole’s parents lost track of their own parents. They later found out that their parents had been killed in Poland in concentration camps.

This story, and Cole himself, will bring a physical connection to the Holocaust that he believes more recent generations need.

“I believe that as time passes, a generation that follows another, doesn’t know the lessons of the previous generation,” Cole said. “So, if you would have presented a swastika to your grandfather’s generation who fought World War II, and anyone in the United States, everyone — I am sorry to paint with that big of a brush — but everyone would have said that is a symbol of evil and the enemy. Today, some of that has been forgotten as people went on.”

Cole’s daughter, senior Lauren Cole, agrees that there is a numbness towards anti-semitic symbols like the swastika. English teacher Samantha Feinberg is Jewish and has helped put on previous diversity and inclusion events, including this upcoming event. She’s not sure if the vandalism itself was purposely anti-semitic or done out of pure ignorance.

“I don’t even know at this point if people, when they see a swastika, even know what they’re doing,” Feinberg said. “What it stands for. If they even know where it came from.”

Feinberg hopes the event will account for three things: first, it will function as a response to the vandalism that occurred in February, knowing that East students witnessed it. Secondly, it will dissolve the misconception that may exist in the community that East students were actually the perpetrators of the vandalism. Third is the creation of a dialogue.

“Say you toss the first two reasons, what you’re left with is the society that could probably use a good deal of reminders of historical injustices, of all sorts,” Feinberg said.

Cole hopes that his presentation will assist the community in prevention of future acts of hate.

“The important phrase to get across often for us is [just] because this unbelievable extermination of half of the world’s Jewish population [happened once] does not mean it cannot happen again,” Cole said. “Or that it can’t happen to other people, equally as victimized. So part of my message has to do, not with uniquely the Jewish experience, but any minority who is oppressed and who is victimized.”

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The Harbinger’s goal is to continue a conversation about racism that Jane Elliot started. Although she was brought in with good intentions, she strayed from her focus. However, this conversation is still relevant. This needs to be a conversation about celebrating our differences.

If we were all the exact same, there would be nothing intriguing about anyone. Everyone comes from a unique cultural background that should be respected and validated.

East is not perfect. Subtle racism exists here, but passionate teachers and students are making a difference. We ultimately need to realize that there is so much room to improve.

This is us expressing our differences.

 

Design by Yashi Wang and Will Tulp
Introduction by Marti Fromm
Conclusion by Kaleigh Koc

Edited by the Above

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