- Shaunte D. Wright
SWAG's Summer Youth Forums
On June 17th, SWAG held the first of four forums we are hosting this Summer at Lock 3 in downtown Akron. The topic: Racism in Our Youth. Each forum focuses on a specific area that affects our youth today. To help lead the conversations, we invited Kent State College students to guide the discussions in our break out sessions and they did not disappoint!
For several years, there has been a lot of talk of racism in our country and how to fix different systems. Often times, our youth are left out of that conversation. We neglect to be mindful of the mental and emotional effect racism has on our youth, which can also lead to educational stresses and failures. SWAG, being a program for our youth across Akron, decided it was time to address this topic with our students head on and develop a way for our youth to speak freely about what is happening to them.
While racism is different now than it was in the 1960s, it is still very prevalent in our country. But it looks different to each person who experiences it too. Through these forums, the students are sharing what words mean to them and gaining a respect for different races, nationalities, and cultures.
Students between the ages of 11 and 19, from all walks of life, across Akron, came together to share their experiences. They shared a meal together. They bonded over shared trials and tribulations. They offered solutions and possible outcomes. This was not a gripe session. The students maturity when talking about tough experiences was nothing short of epic. There was respect. There was learning. There was compassion. There was empathy. There was a realization from all ages, from all races, that a change must happen. There was a coming together.
In our first forum, we discussed Racism in Our Neighborhoods. Up next is Racism in Our Schools. There is a plan being developed to help eliminate racism and its effects in our youth; You could be apart of the plan. You can go down in history with your contributions to these important conversations. Our next forum is on July 1st. To register, visit our "Upcoming Events" page. We would love to have your voice be heard.