Student voice is one of the buzzwords ringing around education these days. Here it is in the School’s DNA. Allowing space for young people to express their opinions and giving them the confidence to do so is part of the BSP’s mission. Therefore I am delighted to be able to pass my column over to Rayan this week.
“Pluralism does not mean the elimination of difference, but the embrace of difference. Genuine pluralism understands that diversity does not weaken a society, it strenghtens it.”His Highness the Aga Khan
As a student, and a person of colour, I have closely watched the ongoing anti-racism protests and rallies in the USA and around the world. Thousands have mobilized and assembled to stand up against racism. And, finally, governments, business and everyday people are listening and beginning the long process of instituting change.
I want to acknowledge the deep damage to humanity caused by racism. Racism exists everywhere, in all societies, even within our own BSP community. As students we have the right to be loved, respected, and supported for who we are if we are to become the best version of ourselves.
As another school year comes to a close, I would like everyone to please remember that the important work of creating the conditions for students to thrive involves all of us. This is not a single moment in time, but rather a moral imperative to create positive and lasting change. We have a collective responsibility to make our community, and the world, a better place. Our teachers have inspired us as students to bring our best, each and every day, inside and outside the classroom. We have been asked to model excellence in scholarship, character and leadership. From the beginning of our student experience, the values of student voice, choice, and agency have been instilled on us.
We can all do something. We can sign a petition. We can (safely) join a protest. Read a book – This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell or Stamped by Ibram X. Kendi. Watch TED Talks such as: The Path to Ending Systemic Racism in the US. Talk with your family about what is happening in the world today. Have they experienced racism? Have they subjected someone to racism? What were they taught about different races in school? What about their parents? Let’s not be afraid to ask the hard questions. And let’s not be afraid of the answers to those questions.
Now is the moment to show our true character as leaders. We have a unique and unprecedented opportunity to commit to the important, ongoing work of learning, understanding, and advocating. Open and honest discourse, standing up for what is right, respecting different perspectives, recognizing the strength which comes from diversity and plurality, and taking visible action are what we do. Let’s challenge each other, on a daily basis to make our school, homes, and community reflective of who we are and what we stand for. It is only in this way that we will be able to embrace our differences and become a stronger and more united society.