Published Dec. 15, 2021
BY RYAN JALILI
Due to recent incidents of hate speech on the Carmel High campus, coupled by their own experiences of racial discrimination on campus, CHS juniors Valentina McGuire Torres and Grace Wang have created the Ethnic Awareness Club to battle racism by having a student-led community that allows people of color to express their experiences.
“My goal is for students to learn about different cultures throughout the world so people can realize the uniqueness and beautiful aspects of distinct ethnic groups,” Torres says. “Due to this increasing education, hopefully people can respect and appreciate each other.”
Torres reports having witnessed instances of racism on campus as a freshman, including students’ use of racial slurs and harmful stereotypes against students of color. Many of Torres’ friends have also shared their experiences of racism on campus, which gave Torres the inspiration to create the Ethnic Awareness Club.
Torres also reports having experienced offensive comments because of her heritage as a Colombian.
“A lot of boys would sexualize me,” Torres says, “and eventually sexually harass me and would use my ethnicity to excuse their actions, implying stereotypes about Latinas’ bodies.”
The club hopes to educate students on how racism, xenophobia and discrimination can be incredibly harmful even if students believe they are just joking around.
“There’s absolutely casual racism at CHS,” club co-president Grace Wang says. “It’s probably the most dominant form here. People won’t be quick to outright say that they’re a racist, but many here do have preconceived notions against certain ethnic groups.”
Carmel student services teacher Kortney Aronson hosts the meeting in her classroom.
“I am honestly really inspired by all the students, their passion for this topic and their desire to really make shifts in the school culture,” Aronson says. “Just hearing some of their experiences and reasons for wanting to get the club started, I felt it would be a great reason to support their efforts.”
Students have joined the club for a wide variety of reasons, whether it be to share their experiences of racism or to help educate themselves on other cultures.
“A part of the reason I joined is that I’m a person of color myself,” junior Anna Hight says. “I gave a Ted Talk previously about my experiences as an Asian-American, which I thought could give me an interesting perspective in this club.”
Club meetings are held every Wednesday in Room 14.