School should expand discussions of discrimination

Cohort Academy has the potential to bring awareness to other oppressed groups

The Acalanes Union High School District implemented the first Cohort Academy sessions this school year to promote awareness of racial and ethnic issues. 

The sessions at Miramonte and other schools mainly focus on discussions surrounding diversity and foster courageous conversations about race, ethnicity, and prejudice. However, because of the repeated emphasis placed on the discrimination experienced by the African American community, many other underrepresented communities have yet to be acknowledged. 

Many students feel the Cohort Academy sessions should focus on all minority communities, including the Asian American and Native American communities, in order to raise awareness to the challenges other groups face every day.

As shown by the June 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, the African American community has started to gain much-deserved awareness in society, though there is still a long way to go. However, there are many other communities who also face prejudice and discrimination on a daily basis are not only underrepresented in society but also in our own academic setting.

“The Cohort Academies tend to only discuss topics through a black versus white lens. If we only discuss racism and prejudice through a black and white perspective, we fail to shed light on a vast number of people who do not fit into those categories. We need to start talking about discrimination on a much more diverse spectrum than just black and white,” Miramonte junior Gracia Chen said.

In the past few weeks, violence against the Asian American community has spiked uncontrollably, stemming from underlying xenophobia against Chinese people after the spread of the coronavirus. However, these incidents have only briefly been talked about in Cohort Academy, even though racist incidents against Asian Americans have been occurring since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and have recently skyrocketed. 

According to a June 30 2020, press release from Stop AAPI Hate, there were 832 reported incidents of COVID-19 related discrimination and harassmen against members of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in California over a 13-week period.  

“Violence towards Asian Americans, especially in the Bay Area, is a very topical issue and should be brought up in Cohort Academy in order to educate everyone about different types of prejudices. As an Asian American, I feel disregarded when we don’t take the chance to talk about hate that’s happening so close to home,” sophomore Megan Chui said.

Furthermore, the Hispanic and Latino communities have yet to be talked about, despite facing years of oppression. According to the Pew Research Center, 48 percent of Latinos said they experienced discrimination in America 2019. Similarly, there is an utter disregard for Native American and other indigenous peoples, who have long faced suppression and racism, despite their important historical impact. 

“Students should learn about combating the narratives surrounding Indigenous erasure, the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women, cultural appropriation, the history of Native American boarding schools, tribal sovereignty and the #LandBack movement, the problem with Native mascots, and learning about whose land you occupy. Miramonte students could learn about the Ohlone and Miwok people, as our community is on their ancestral land, and go from there!” Miramonte counselor Ellen Conners said.

Cohort Academy has the potential to bring awareness to other oppressed groups. Women continue to face discrimination in American society, as shown by the wage gap between men and women. According to the Census Bureau, “women of all races earned, on average, just 82 cents for every one dollar earned by men of all races.” Even worse, Hispanic and Latino women make 52 cents per every one dollar earned by men. 

Many laws and policies limit women’s rights and currently there is a push for an abortion ban in states such as Alabama. Additionally, American women are experiencing rising sexual harassment and assault rates, which limits women’s freedoms. These issues pertain to half of the world’s population but are ignored in Miramonte’s equity sessions.

“Everyone should be required to learn about oppression against all different marginalized groups. We need to have conversations about consent and sexual assault in a classroom environment because it’s a rampant issue at Miramonte,” junior Anaya Budayr, president of the Miramonte Intersectional Feminist Alliance, said.

Similarly, the LGBTQ+ community has yet to be spotlighted in Cohort Academy sessions. The systemic homophobia and oppression that this community has faced is undeniable and heartbreaking. According to the Human Rights Campaign, “hate crimes based on sexual orientation represent 16.7 percent of hate crimes, the third largest category.” There is a large Miramonte LGBTQ+ population but they are ignored in the equity and diversity sessions.

“I believe that we can  recognize and address the discrimination against minority groups without discrediting the very important work we’re doing in our Academies right now. The conversations we’re having need to expand to allow for discussions about other minority groups,” Miramonte junior Sajda Amiri, president of the Unity in Diversity club, said. 

The world isn’t black and white. Hate crimes, racism, and prejudice exist in all areas and among all groups of society. The Cohort Academy sessions should reflect this diversity by raising awareness for not only the African American community, but also the many other minority groups in society and on campus.