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Students attend National White Privilege conference

Student+attendees+and+Dr.+Jenn+Sebold+pose+with+founder+of+the+conference+Dr.+Eddie+Moore.
Student attendees and Dr. Jenn Sebold pose with founder of the conference Dr. Eddie Moore.

Student attendees and Dr. Jenn Sebold pose with founder of the conference Dr. Eddie Moore.

Courtesy of Jenn Sebold

Courtesy of Jenn Sebold

Student attendees and Dr. Jenn Sebold pose with founder of the conference Dr. Eddie Moore.

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As a six year old, it manifests itself as not having a bandaid that matches the color of your skin when you scrape your knee on the playground and go to the nurse. At 16, it’s the looming fear of being pulled over by a cop because the hands (your hands) driving the steering wheel are black and not white. At 26, it’s the bewildered looks and raised eyebrows people give you they find out you are successful in a highly competitive field—a Muslim woman is capable of being a stockbroker? Devoid of white privilege, or the innate benefits of being the majority race in America, is a daily and constant struggle for people of color.

Over the weekend of April 27-30, sophomores Ashley Spillman, James Lovings, Harmauhny Faulkner and Matthew Dyck attended the 28th annual White Privilege Conference in Kansas City, MO.

“Over the weekend, we would wake up around eight o’clock and have breakfast and then we would go to keynote speeches from people from all across the world, so there were Asian-Americans, Native-Americans, African-Americans, so people from all walks of life. We got to hear their stories and perspective on white privilege,” Dyck said.

Dr. Jenn Sebold invited four sophomores to the conference that represented different ethnic backgrounds.

“It was eye opening to see all the different ethnic groups and how white privilege has affected them. There were about 2000 people from all over the country and then more people from other places, like Great Britain and Sweden and Ireland,” Spillman said. “I learned a lot about kids from around the country. There was this group of students and they were talking about how they made changes at their school. Their school had a lot of Native American students and they were African American students, so it was almost white privilege but with Native Americans. So they did not have as many opportunities as other students; they held walkouts and sit-ins and other types of protests. I was just so surprised that that type of stuff still happens.”

The conference was organized by The Privilege Institute, based in Greenwood Village, CO, and has been hosting the event since 1999.

“I was surprised by how diverse the group was, because in that group, the white people were a minority because there were so many people of color. It was just a really cool experience to see all those people and get used to being the minority then coming back here and being the majority felt so weird,” Spillman said.

The mission of the conference was to provide a challenging, collaborative and comprehensive experience in order to  empower and equip individuals to work for equity and justice through self and social transformation.

“I felt really changed once it was all over because the program forced you to be uncomfortable with what you were talking about and forced you to be in a position where you have to reconsider the things you do in your life and take for granted and so really it made to more aware of myself as a person and how other people in the world face challenges that i don’t even know about,” Dyck said.

The event credited over 60 individuals as speakers at its events.  

“The speakers they very diverse, there was one Native American speaker, who talked about how America is still a colony because we moved into the native american lands and still haven’t left. They talked about how we have infiltrated our lands and broken the treaties that were made,” Spillman said. “Than there were other speakers, like a lady from China who was a first generation immigrant, that was really cool too. There were a few african american speakers and they talked about how white privilege has influenced their life and how they get pulled over more than white people do and how it’s just really impacted them.”

Besides having speaking events, the conference offered students Youth Action programs, which are student lead and focused discussions. Additionally, students were split off into affinity groups based off ethnic groups or gender.

“I learned that the world is not just black and white as I thought but that there is a lot to learn from all cultures,” Faulkner said. “I want to bring back to West that we should just be open-hearted, and just to do what you can to improve the lives of everyone around you.”

The White Privilege conference core values include collaboration, accountability and responsibility, awareness in order to fight for liberation, social justice and equity.

I like social justice so much mainly because I am gay, so I  think that a big part of being gay is standing up not just for the LGBT community but for everyone who is being oppressed in the community and I just love helping people. So I think wanting to help people is what led me to want to go,” Dyck said. “I think the biggest take away is to act instead of just talking about it, like in clubs we have at school like feminist club and social justice club there is a lot of discussion but I think action is more important.

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One Response to “Students attend National White Privilege conference”

  1. Charlotte V. Ijei on May 20th, 2017 1:50 am

    In the 18 years of the White Privilege Conference, this was the first time Parkway has been able to take students like other districts across the country. One reason was because it was held in Kansas City, Missouri and we could drive which saved the District money.

    Our students were amazing. They showed confidence, curiosity, and caring. Our student’s character was a part of who they are as Parkway students. They met many people who were both like them and different from them and had no problem making connections. Are they prepared for an ever-changing world? Absolutely, and they are ready to engage and embrace all students at West High regardless of their differences. This is character at its best. When Dr. Eddie Moore, Founder of the White Privilege Conference 18 years ago, asked who these students were, I was so proud to say, they are from Parkway and they are ready to go back and draw students in as opposed to pushing students out. Each student has a right to feel as though they belong in Parkway, and it takes special students like this to have the courage to use their voices to make this happen. Parkway is a great place to be because Parkway Cares!

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