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Students and educators to talk about white privilege at Cape conference

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Students and educators from around the Cape will gather for a conference on White Privilege at Barnstable High School.

Dozens of teachers and students are meeting at Barnstable High School Saturday to have what some might call uncomfortable conversations.

They'll be attending the Cape's second-ever White Privilege Conference to learn about equity, racism and how to talk more openly about white privilege.

I talked with conference organizer, and Nauset Regional High School teacher, Lisa Brown, and Senior Phoebe Lowry to learn more about what they hope to accomplish.

Eident Lisa, this conference, as the title suggests, has a particular focus on privilege. Can you talk about that?

Brown It's bringing together a bunch of folks who are really educated around diversity and also motivational about how to break through some of the binds that tie us to sort of old forms and old ideas of racism. It really is working towards educating in the 21st century how to create equity and equality still on this planet. So that's what we're doing this time.

Eident Is there a portion of this conference specifically for educators and then one aimed at students?

Brown Yeah, there's a youth action project. So we have Sturgis, Falmouth, Barnstable and Nauset, I believe, so far signed up.

And then the adult piece is really we've got keynote speakers, Debbie Irving, Monique Clarke, who's going to be talking about the inequities around the deaf community. And, of course, Eddie Moore, who is the founder of the institute. He's very motivational and he's going to be talking about how to break through barriers when talking to people of other ethnicities, cultures, etc., etc. We'll also have people representative of the Wampanoag there.

Eident And you have a student with you right now, Nauset High School senior Phoebe Lowry. Phoebe, tell us why you wanted to be part of the Youth Action Project.

Lowry Well, for me, I think it's really important that we use our voices and we all play a role in our community doing whatever we can. And, I think that if the people in my generation, like the students right now, can become educated on these topics like white supremacy before we become the adults or the educators, then we can sort of hopefully, hopefully stop the perpetuation of the white supremacy that has been happening since the start of the beginning of our country.

Eident Well, it sounds like there will be a lot of learning going on, but that you also might meet some people from around the Cape who better want to understand and address white privilege.

Lowry Yes, definitely. I'd say it's going to be really cool to meet all of the people who share sort of the same views that I have and the same goals. And I think it will be not only inspiring, but somewhat comforting, knowing that there's other people in my generation and my age that are passionate about this, just like I am.

Eident Lisa Brown, you helped organize a conference on white privilege before on the Cape in 2017. It sounds like it had an impact on you.

Brown Well, you know, I'll tell you, it did. And the reason that it did is because the speakers that came were really inspirational and had really been boots on the ground.

I mean, really what it comes down to is that if we have the power to equal the playing field for LGBTQ+ kids, for trans kids, for the Black and Brown community, for the Latinx community, for whomever is really oppressed in one way or another.

You know, as Americans, do we not get to lift each other up? And if there's nothing else, I want to teach these kids here is that we're powerful, powerful people as Americans, and that with that power comes responsibility. And with that responsibility comes change making. And, if we can change the world for a better place, for us to learn how to communicate better, for us to talk more about equality and equity and make sure that the least of us get what the rest of us have, then I think our whole humanity is better for it.

Eident Nauset High School teacher Lisa Brown and Senior Phoebe Lowry, thank you both for talking with us about the White Privilege Conference coming up this weekend at Barnstable High School.

Brown Thank you very much, I really appreciate your time.

This conversation was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.

Learn more about the WPS conference here.

Listen to episodes on The Point on this topic:

Understanding White Privilege to Dismantle Racist Systems
21 Day Racial Equity Challenge
Teaching the Truth of Racism

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Local News Heard on CAI's Morning EditionRace and Systemic Racism
Kathryn Eident was the Morning Edition Host and Senior Producer of News until November 2022.