Congratulations to Ethical Youth of the Social & Racial Justice Scholars program!
~ and gratitude to Howard Rose for designing our program certificates ~
SOCIAL & RACIAL JUSTICE SCHOLARS YOUTH PROGRAM
In March 2021, the New York Society for Ethical Culture (NYSEC) teamed up with the American Slavery Project (ASP) to offer a unique and ambitious youth program via Zoom this spring: The Social & Racial Justice Scholars (SRJS), free for teens and tweens, along with a nationwide call-out to Youth of Ethical Societies (YES). Simone Barros of ASP and Audrey Kindred buckled down with seven studious, serious, amazing learners.
We were privileged to be working with Simone Barros, who produced American Slavery Project’s “Reverberation Plays,” audio dramas (or plays for radio). An award-winner in her field, Simone creates moving image and soundscapes for film and theater, has had her plays staged in commercial theaters, is an audio book director, and has done postproduction work for such noted filmmakers as Ric Burns, Sam Pollard, and Spike Lee. She teaches filmmaking at Pratt and co-teaches dramatic writing at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Stargate program.
Topics and material were sourced from the “Reverberation Plays,” ASP’s visually meditative audio plays which had been broadcast through Ethical Culture for the whole community. (Those of you who watched and listened to these plays know the material was very sophisticated.) Sections of 5-to-10 minutes in length were parsed out for youth-appropriate listening. These dramatized segments launched discussion. Through this work, participants faced really powerful topics, often for the first time, including the racial wealth gap, the roots of racism in America, eugenics, college loans, labor and its compensation or lack thereof. And finally, participants grappled with the very delicate processes involved when humans in various situations face and attempt to solve ethical dilemmas.
The grand finale was on Juneteenth!—acknowledged this year as an official federal holiday. The students met the ASP Co-founder and Producing Artistic Director, Judy Tate and she told them about the roots of her work, and why she is so determined to make sure that we all can examine “the past in the present.”
In a wrap up about the Youth program and Ethical’s participation in ASP’s Reverberation Series, Judy Tate shared, “What a great partner you and NYSEC have been! I love that we’re committed to education and social justice in the same ways and your Ethical Explorers group was such a perfect fit. My eyes were crossing trying to figure out an education component that I could implement, then when Simone told me about you and YEE, it was like a gift from the Ancestors!! I LOVE that you start very young with YEE. It’s never to early to start a conversation about choices and how we view the world. Kids are going to make assumptions from adult behavior anyway, so why not have it be intentional? I look forward to participating in more of NYSEC’s offerings.”
The students ended their program series by examining many oaths, including that of the American Slavery Project, and Ethical Culture’s mission statement. The result of this exercise was that they created their own Ethical oath, shown here on the certificate that they were each awarded. It reads:
“We, the Social & Racial Justice Youth-Scholars,
in order to learn how to make the world a better place,
ensure equality for all,
and honor those before us who fought the same fight,
pledge to take care of each other,
providing aid and support if needed,
to vigilantly educate ourselves and others for the greater good,
and to act in deed upon said education.
Sharon, the senior member of our group, hailing all the way from the St. Louis Society, shared her reflections: “It’s been amazing getting to meet with other people that care about & have worked in social & racial justice! It’s also been great getting to learn about things that you wouldn’t normally learn about in a standard school curriculum, such as how eugenics happened in the US too, not just Nazi Germany. Or learning about the African Burial Ground in New York. I was also happy to learn about the American Slavery Project. I love what they are doing and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of their work!”
Marifer who has grown up within Ethical NYC, said: “SRJS lets us talk about very serious issues of the past and present about the crappy things we have done, and helps us learn how to stand up to these issues, all with engaging conversations, and creative audio plays. ”
Gabriel reflected, “The Social Justice Scholars meetings are a place of learning history and most of all love. I had a very good time learning how to be a better person and I think this will help us and many others learn how to heal the world. I enjoyed watching the videos and using them to learn about the parts of American history that no one talks about.”
David Ige and Sylvie Fan, parents of our newest participant, Olinas, shared this reflection: “We have found Olinas’ participation in YEE a beautiful complement to work being accomplished in her school. Contextualization of material, and hands-on experience gained through actions and thorough discussions with peers are all realized in age-appropriate style. Dinnertime chatter gets a big lift from the many questions brought up. Looking forward to continuing on the journey!”
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE SCHOLARS!
We’re so proud of you! Eli! Sharon! Marifer! Ohm! Olina! Gabriel!” ~ from: