CARE Week Addresses White Privilege, Diversity and Equity at Acalanes

By Stephanie Liu, Copy Editor

   In an increasingly globalized world, and an especially diverse Bay Area community, Acalanes students will interact with many people of different races, ethnicities, religions, sexualities, and genders all their lives. Through CARE week, Acalanes seeks to prepare students for a multicultural world and create an accepting and safe school atmosphere.

   CARE week is an annual event at Acalanes in which student leaders run diversity workshops for their peers. The workshops usually consist of defining key terms such as privilege and equity, a student-produced video, and several activities to convey the prevalence of privilege and the importance of diversity work. 

   Due to the complicated nature of diversity issues, the specific focus each year shifts. This year’s central themes were inclusivity and white privilege, according to Diversity Commissioner Aviruchi Dawadi. 

   To address the theme of white privilege, the commissioners replaced the typical hand-raising exercise with an activity called “How Diverse is Your Universe?” Different colored beads represent different races, and participants pick beads which correspond to questions such as: “What race is your best friend?” or “What race was the author of the last book you read?” In the end, students should have a visual representation of the diversity (or lack thereof) in their everyday lives. 

   This activity received a positive response from CARE leaders and participants alike.

   “When I was a freshman, my favorite activity was How Diverse is Your Universe, which we did again this year. When you actually have your beads, it really puts everything into perspective, and it’s my favorite because it’s interactive,” senior and CARE leader Charlie Keohane said.

   Freshman Chiara Depagne agreed that the visual representation was enlightening.

   “I’m going to be honest, most of my beads were blue, [which represents white people]. And it really opened my eyes,” Depagne said.

   Another change this year, which corresponds to the inclusivity focus, was the lunchtime activities run by different diversity-focused clubs on campus. 

   Each day was assigned to a different club: QSA led a “How to be an Ally” discussion on Monday, BSU held a meeting about racial bias on Tuesday, Best Buddies invited students to eat lunch with the special ed students on Wednesday, Feminism Club talked about women of color on Thursday, and Asian American Club folded paper cranes to protest the immigration detention centers on Friday.

   While the lunchtime activities were successful, the students in attendance were of a limited demographic.

   “I’m seeing more leadership kids and kids in the clubs than kids who just thought, ‘Wow, that’s a nice thing to do. Let’s go there,’” Depagne said. “We should share the information about each precise activity instead of just the week so people can find what they want. A lot of people don’t know about these lunchtime activities.”

   Students also had suggestions on how to improve the CARE workshops in the future. Some reported that the presentation spent too much time defining terms but not going into specifics.

   “I feel like CARE week is really beneficial, but as far as the presentation goes, if it was a little bit more clear and more explained, it would be more interesting,” freshman Tess Gundacker said.

   Others suggested making the workshops more interactive.

   “I think that it was a little long and I know for a fact that in my class, a ton of people spaced out during it. They were awake for the beads and for the video, and that’s when they learn things— not when people were just talking at us instead of to us,” Depagne said.

   Senior and CARE leader Helena Pratt-Holmberg agreed that more interaction was necessary and proposed adding more time for students to talk about what they wanted to talk about, rather than a stiff, restricted presentation. 

   “I can see that people want to be having these conversations, but they’re always at the end and we never have enough time,” Pratt-Holmberg said. 

   However flawed the current system may be, it still remains that diversity work is imperative and will always have a place at Acalanes. 

   “I just hope that everyone was able to stay engaged because it is really important that we have these discussions,” Keohane said. “I don’t know if it’s the best way to have these conversations but I think that it’s important and I hope that some people got to learn new things.”

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