In reaction to the recent tragedy in Buffalo, New York, student leaders of the Upper School Men of Color Heritage Alliance (MOCHA) and Black Student Union (BSU) welcomed their peers, faculty and staff for a teach-in to learn more and reflect together.
Junior student leaders Hudson Lin, Payton Pitts and Evan Sato shared information about the recent tragedy wherein an 18-year-old white supremacist traveled more than 200 miles to a supermarket in an area of Buffalo known for poverty. In all, 13 people were shot—11 of whom were African-American—realizing a plan that this individual had been scheming and sharing with others on the Internet well ahead of the incident (in addition to livestreaming during the shooting spree).
Student presenters introduced the concept of replacement theory, a conspiracy concept that nonwhite individuals are being brought into the United States and other Western countries as "replacements" for white voters to achieve a political agenda. Lin, Pitts and Sato shared media clips showing how ideologues weaponize this idea to elicit strong reactions. Students also addressed gun rights and the interplay of legislation with the Constitution, as well as the rush for many to change the narrative surrounding this act of violence stemming from racism to one about mental illness.
The student leaders invited those in attendance to react to their presentation. Following the event, Pitts sent a note to the community saying, “We hope that a blueprint has been laid for more students and teachers to indulge in uncomfortable dialogue and conversation about race, gun violence, governmental policy and issues in our current climate. Evan, Hudson, Elias (Acevedo, junior) and I have aimed to take the burden off of students of color to lead these conversations and promote more spaces for everyone to discuss in our Parker community. It starts with our community and a willingness to be uncomfortable for the sake of learning and subsequently achieving a more educated and aware community.”
Thanks to all who participated, especially to the student leaders and their faculty advisors Dr. Eliot Pope and Sven Carlsson for helping to make this teach-in a reality.