AspenX is an opportunity for high school students to take a deep dive into critical topics of the day through virtual and experiential learning and moderated in-person dialogue. Taylor Trimble participated in an AspenX seminar experience on race and equity in Chicago, IL in December 2018 and reflected on her experience.
Rosa Parks once said, “No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.” By “giving in,” Parks means constantly falling victim to racism, consequently making her viewed as unequal. Similarly, as a young black woman in America, I have found myself overwhelmingly exhausted at being a victim to discrimination and microaggressions. Undoubtedly, I am not the only minority that consistently faces discrimination in our society. At AspenX Chicago, I had the tremendous opportunity to meet many people around my age of different races, ethnicities, genders, and sexualities. Along with meeting many different people came their unique perspectives that stemmed from their lived experiences. I found this to be the most notable part of the seminar. Being subjected to new viewpoints allowed me to be empathetic to both the struggles and negative encounters my peers have faced. For instance, my peers of Hispanic and Asian descent shared stereotypes they are commonly associated with and how that affects them in their day-to-day lives. This was especially important to me because I fully believe if people took the time to empathize with others we could truly change and reduce racial discrimination as well as racial division.
On the first day of AspenX, we went to the Chicago History Museum where we conversed about historical events in which race and equity played major roles. The main events we focused on were the women’s suffrage movement, internment of Japanese Americans, and slavery. We were able to tie these events to historical racism, which is the cause of the perpetuation of stereotypes and prejudice that are still present in our society today. The second day of the seminar was composed of lengthy, yet very insightful discussions around a multitude of topics such as intersectionality, biased media coverage, racial identity crises, and more. I found the second day to be the most insightful because, typically, when someone mentions race and equity the concept is automatically deemed “uncomfortable.” However, that should not be the norm in our society.
One of my biggest takeaways from AspenX Chicago is the importance of engaging in civil discourse and the significance of brainstorming potential solutions. Civil discourse allows us to understand others and have a better ability to search for the root of the problems in society. Talking is an important start to serving the greater good by creating equality. During AspenX Chicago, we all took time to come up with solutions to create a better community. Our solutions included seminars or after school programs similar to AspenX to make civil discourse available to younger students whose voices need to be heard. That’s because younger students are the next generation of leaders in America. Another major takeaway from the seminar would be that my voice is important and impactful despite my age. My beliefs and my hunger for change have great potential to ultimately ignite that change in society. Lastly, I would like to greatly thank AspenX Chicago for all the wonderful friendships I have made along the journey of just two, short days.