Youth Summit: Institutionalized Racism from a Global Perspective
Racism is not new, nor is it unique to America. To bring the lessons of the World War II experience of Japanese Americans into a contemporary and global context, Global Classroom invited middle and high school students to the Youth Summit at Bellevue Community College in March, 2005.
The purpose of the summit was to provide a forum for dialogue about racism as it has manifested itself in the U.S. and the world both past and present. The youth explored and compared the treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II and Americans of Islamic faith post-9/11, as well as African Americans across the centuries. They considered racism in other countries and regions around the world, such as South Africa, Kosovo, Rwanda, and the Middle East.
Youth were asked, “How do you feel the program influenced your thinking about the issue?” Here are some of their responses:
- “I learned many new perspectives today. new issues expressed by many different people. I’m glad I came today.”
- “It made me realize how much prejudice exists in parts of the world that I wasn’t aware were there.”
- “I got to know more about racism, and how we as humans are biased of each other.”
- “There is no substitute for discussing a difficult topic such as racism with a diverse group.”
- “I’ve worked to end racism at my school and in the community. Today gave me a reminder that people are at different levels and each person interprets things differently.”
- “It opened my mind up to the ideas that we all desire a certain level of companionship and together we can make a collective difference.”