In response to an alleged hate crime at Samo last year, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District decided to start holding community dialogues on race, the first of which was on Oct. 29.
“The district decided during the summer to sponsor a dialogue on race. The dialogue is an opportunity for participants to respectfully share their experiences and perspectives related to race relations in our community and schools,” SMMUSD director of curriculum and instruction Peggy Harris said.
According to Samo Principal Laurel Fretz, one of the purposes of this dialogue was to help people accept the fact that racism is still alive, even in Santa Monica. By attending dialogues like these, community members get the chance to face that fact and push forward.
“The really great thing about this is that by acknowledging that it’s an ongoing issue, these types of dialogues will be part of our culture,” Fretz said.
At the dialogue, participants split into groups to talk about racial issues they have had to face as well as to brainstorm ways these issues can be avoided. The majority of participants were adults but students who attended found the groups and event to be a success as well.
“This event was effective in the sense that I got to express my opinion,” senior Kadar Vernes said.
Junior Jamila Salih shares similar sentiments.
“I feel like it was very effective because we can hear everyone’s point of view: administrators, teachers and board members,” Salih said.