Dealing with Hostility

Should you find your RJA or its members facing harassment or hostility at school or from the community, here are some possible ways of dealing with it.

HOSTILITY…

…From Teachers

Train the Teachers: Work with administrators to schedule a teacher training where the RJSA could help teachers learn about racism, how it impacts their students, and how make their classrooms safer for students of color.

Get Adults Talking: Send in the advisor! Some adults might be more apt to listen to  a colleague than students on topics that make them uncomfortable. Advisors are also in a position to bring racial justice issues and discussion about how best to support students of color to adult spaces like faculty meetings of the staff break room.

…From Students

Educate Students: Hostility is often due to ignorance, and the only way to fight ignorance is to educate. Consider teaming up with other equity and social justice clubs at your school to establish freshman anti-bias workshops and/or to create anti-bias seminars for the larger student body. Use these events as opportunities to educate students about racial issues and other matters of social justice.

Educate Students: Hostility is often due to ignorance, and the only way to fight ignorance is to educate. Consider teaming up with other equity and social justice clubs at your school to establish freshman anti-bias workshops and/or to create anti-bias seminars for the larger student body. Use these events as opportunities to educate students about racial issues and other matters of social justice.

Create Policy: If you have a supportive administration, ask them to establish a new school policy in which a student who bullies or harasses another student, must sit down and talk with a select group of RJA members to help them understand why such behavior is not acceptable. Such measures help prevent future incidents. See Restorative Practices for more information.

Get Published: Write an editorial for the school newspaper. For example, editorialize about the purpose of a RJA or compose an article that explains the negative impact that racism has on all students.

…From Administrators

Use the Law: See (16 V.S.A. § 1623)in Vermont Statutes. As a result this model policy is available through the Vermont School Board Association

Send in a Teacher Ally. Some administrators may be more likely to listen to another adult than students, so setting up a meeting with both the RJA advisor and some students may be most effective.

…From Your Community

Write an Editorial. Publish an editorial in your local paper. Get your voice out there and explain your point of view to the community.

Present Your Case. Make a presentation to the PTA or to a community organization and explain what the RJA is all about. Be sure to include members of the community, and if you’re talking to the PTA, be sure to invite supportive parents or parents of the RJA members.

HOSTILITY…

…Against an Individual Student

Identify a Support System. Let harassed students know that they have somewhere to go and that people support them. Reach out and help them understand that you and the RJSA are there for them if they need it. Make sure you find out if counselors or social workers at your school are educated about and supportive of racial issues. Find other support groups and services in your community.

File a Complaint. File a written complaint about the harassment. 

…Against Your RJA Club

Make Yourself Heard. Write an editorial for the school newspaper and explain the purpose of your club and why it’s necessary.

Develop a Poster Campaign. Plaster your campus with posters. Put up a series of posters designed to raise awareness and explain the importance of your club.

OPPOSITION…

…To Your Posters

Surprise Messages. Behind each poster, leave a second, surprise message. Some RJAs have successfully put empowering messages behind their posters for the people who tear them down to read and for the rest of the student body to read afterward, like  “Hate is easy; Love takes courage.”

Laminate. Laminating your posters makes them longer-lasting and less destructible.

Solution: Put Them in Safe Locations. Ask supportive teachers if you can put up posters in their classrooms. Ask supportive administrators if there are glass cases or bulletin boards where you can post permanent flyers. Either of these strategies makes it harder for other people to get to tear down the posters.

… To Your Meetings

Location, Location, Location! Hold your meeting in a discreet or out of the way location, away from people who might want to harass your club.

Stealth Advertising. If you’ve found a discreet place to meet and you’re still being bothered, try keeping the location of your meeting a secret. On posters and announcements, don’t list the location. Instead, advertise that interested students must ask the club advisor or another supportive teacher where the meeting will be held This way, only people who really want to go will show up.

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