Educating to eradicate structural racism

August 17, 2020

All of Kenan’s experiences with racism have only fueled his motivation for social reform. As a founder of Justice Vanguard and member of Tha Hood Squad, he spends much of his time working with others to initiate change in the community. Justice Vanguard aims to increase awareness about the systematic oppression of Black people by organizing protests and engaging in local politics, while Tha Hood Squad features media created by artists of color to positively influence the current narrative of Black and brown people in the news.

As a journalism advertising major, Kenan is especially aware of this negative portrayal in the media.

“There are so many positive things that people of color and Black people are doing that are just never covered,” Kenan said.

This extends beyond the media and into schools, as well. While a student at LAHS, Kenan was disappointed by the lack of positive representation of people of color and other minorities in his own education and curriculum.

“I’m Jewish and Black,” Kenan said. “You know what I learned about myself in school? Holocaust, slavery — that’s it.”

He wants to educate people of all races that there are many more positive sides to Black culture than what schools teach. From when Kenan started at LAHS to now, when his younger siblings are rising seniors, the Moos parents have seen almost no changes in how curriculum positively portrays either of their family’s cultural identities.

“If students feel that the only things they are hearing are negative — of oppression, slavery and the Holocaust — then clearly the school can do a better job of showing that were there so many heroes, so many great people to give students a chance to have pride in their ancestry and who they who they are,” Kevin said.

Education in schools isn’t the only thing Kenan wants to change; he also wants members of the community to understand and inform themselves on the hardships and injustices that minorities face.

“Communities need to know what it is that needs to be changed and why there are these issues,” Kenan said. “They shouldn’t just say, ‘Yeah, it’s bad this happens’ — and that’s it. They should ask, ‘What do these things mean?’”

He’s taking it upon himself to educate the community. On Friday, July 3, Kenan held an educational art event at Lincoln Park to inform participants of what local activist groups are doing to educate the community about the BLM movement. Local residents gathered to paint posters saying “Black is Beautiful” and depicting other symbols of BLM, also learning about the movement at FAQ desks adorned with fliers, handouts and more.

In addition to hosting community events, Kenan is creating informative packets to educate specific local residents who have either publicly made racist comments or targetted Kenan with racist statements.

Enclosed in the manila folder is a survey titled “Am I Racist?” alongside articles and educational handouts. These describe topics such as the importance of reallocating police department funding, the lack of diversity in school curriculum and the history of racism in America and Los Altos. In the next few weeks, Kenan will continue to prepare packets, but he won’t be distributing them himself.

“My dad, my white parent, said, ‘I’ll drop it off so if she does call the police, it’s on me, not on you,’” Kenan explained. “He said that with everything going on, he doesn’t want anything happening to me.”

“A Black teenager walking and dropping something off at the mailbox or a door is going to automatically be assumed as if he’s doing something wrong, trespassing or trying to break in because he’s Black,” Kevin said. “I’m white, so I can drop something off and get away with a lot of things because there’s nothing wrong with what I’m doing.”

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