Lori Hayes Educates Acalanes Students on Racial Equity

By Brendan Connelly, Staff Writer

// Beginning with discussions about race and identity in Academy cohorts at the start of the semester, Acalanes High School students continue to have the opportunity to engage in dialogues to promote inclusivity and understanding in the community. 

   Acalanes Leadership’s Diversity Board hosted a Zoom event with guest speaker Lori Hayes for the Acalanes community on Wednesday, Nov. 18, to discuss what it means to be an upstander instead of a bystander as a part of CARE week at Acalanes. 

   Hayes is an educator with decades of experience and was also a student activities coordinator for the West Virginia University Center for Black Culture and Research. She has spoken at various schools across the country to spread messages about leadership and equity. 

   The Diversity Board organized Hayes’ keynote and aimed to give students the tools they need to handle situations regarding racial equity in everyday life.

   “One of the topics that has always come up in so many student spaces at Acalanes has always been ‘how do I address issues of equity when they come up on social media, in the hallway, in the classroom because often I don’t know what to say, I don’t know how to react and I really want to have that tool kit,’” Leadership and Ethnic Studies teacher Katherine Walton, said. 

   Hayes spoke for around 50 minutes about her experiences and how students can effectively stand up for themselves and others in difficult situations regarding racial equity before opening up the space for questions.

   “One of my many favorite stories she shared was of how she grew up in a school with minimal diversity. She had thought that the world was always like that, with white as the constant majority,” sophomore Liv Banks said. 

   Hayes touched on many topics throughout her talk, but she focused heavily on how community members can be upstanders. She gave book recommendations such as Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and explained the importance of a self-focused outlook. She reminded students that in the end, they could only improve themselves. 

   “Show up for marginalized communities. Show up. Show up. Be there to not be the savior in this situation. When you enter into these affinity groups, when you go to the [Black Student Union] meeting, when you go to the Asian American meeting, go with the idea that I am going to learn,” Hayes said at the meeting.

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