Palmetto is No Place for Hate
January 21, 2016
Many people, including some students at Palmetto, harbor prejudices and cling to stereotypes they hold towards certain groups of people, because of their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or even hair color. No Place for Hate is working to remove prejudice from interactions between students at MPSH.
“I see the prejudice that goes on at this very school every day and I want to put an end to that because we’re all human beings and we all have feelings,” junior Carolina Ladowski said.
The organization that No Place for Hate is part of, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), has been around for 103 years. The ADL works with kindergartners, but also with large corporations and government agencies such as the FBI, CIA and DEA.
“We work with everybody because we believe it’s everyone’s responsibility to be on top of this,” No Place for Hate facilitator Douglas Cureton said.
Earlier this school year, several male lacrosse players made racist comments towards African Americans on the app GroupMe, and the ensuing screenshots spread across social media platforms. No Place for Hate later began training sessions for students who wanted to raise awareness against discrimination and bullying.
“We talked about the lacrosse incident and the risk of sending before you think and the consequences, like a student lost their scholarship to Harvard,”Cureton said. “[We are] really just trying to help each to help each other on a peer level understand what it is that you do sometimes when you don’t think because when you ask kids why did you do that,[they say] ‘I wasn’t thinking.’”
The club seeks to spread awareness on the topic of bullying, helping students who are bystanders,victims or even perpetrators to have access to information and help they need to stand up to bullying, be comforted through the process or stop treating others harmfully.
“A lot of people are not aware they’ve in fact participated in bullying or been an ally to bullying or even just a bystander to bullying,”said No Place for Hate club sponsor Bianca Fernandez said. “We can spread that kind of awareness in order to help those people that need to either step up or admit that they’ve been bullied or seek the help that they need to receive from whether it’s a teacher, friends, parents.”
The training began on Wednesday, January 19 and ran for three school days, from 7:30 a.m. to 2:20 p.m. in the library. Facilitators tested students on their listening and presentation skills. Students began training sessions as strangers. Various exercises were implemented throughout the sessions to make them feel more comfortable with each other. One activity, dubbed Spontaneous Combustion, involved students receiving a question and being required to speak about the given topic for one minute.
“They had really interactive exercises and [had to] look at themselves [to] be honest about what they’ve done in the past that might have been prejudiced or discriminatory and or to be authentic about being students” Cureton said.
Students are planning to visit various classrooms in Palmetto High, Palmetto Middle and Palmetto Elementary after they finish training. They are expected to set examples for participants and teach younger peers the same concepts they learned during training.
“If this can flourish and we can go out and, not teach, but show the students these acts to help them grow,” Ladowski said, “I think that it’ll make this school a way more welcoming place and everyone will feel more comfortable to be themselves.”