The Light Ignited

Ignite the Light 2017

Shelby K., Writer

A town-hall type discussion known as Ignite the Light took place during fifth and sixth period on February 3rd, touching on important topics that students were eager to discuss. Whether it was about physical appearance, mental disorders, sexuality, race, or something else, students were open to speaking their mind and to listening to what others had to say.

“We have to pay attention and listen,” declared Sophomore Hailey Thompson at the meeting. Many people agreed with her, saying that the first step to solving the problem is listening and understanding. What exactly is the problem, though?

Freshman Emily Kubinak elaborated, describing how “people box you out and kind of separate you into a different category.” People do this for many reasons, but the main focus of the discussion seemed to be about race and the stereotypes that coincide with different skin colors.

Senior Devin Gleaton gave an example of these stereotypes in our everyday lives: “Just because of my skin color, because I’m black, doesn’t mean I’m going to do this or that.” Other students gave great examples as well, such as people making assumptions about them wearing a hoodie when they are really just cold or having a bad hair day.

According to Gleaton, we can solve the problem if we “work to uplift and not to bring down.” Many students said that people should not go around judging others without knowing all the facts. This idea was a common theme throughout the meeting: you should never judge a book by its cover. However, it can be hard to repress the unconscious bias within all of us.

“Since we are so diverse, many students may not believe they have racial biases,” explained Senior Jordyn Battle. “However, we all have unconscious biases no matter the extremity and [they] can influence who we [talk] to, who we’re friends with, or even what teachers we like.” Battle then illustrated how we can work to get rid of or suppress unconscious bias, saying that “the only way a person can reduce their own biases is through their own willingness to do so.” This means spreading awareness is crucial since people need to first be aware that they have biases before they are amenable to change.

Although, we cannot just focus on the unconscious bias. “I think it is very important to address the blunt forms of biases but just as important to address the subtle form that we all have,” Battle stated. Some advice she gives as to how to go about addressing bias is to “have an open mind” and reassures that even though it can be hard, it can be done.

She also thinks that a good way to combat these issues is to “have discussions in class about it” and “have schoolwide assemblies.” She emphasizes the idea that people are not always willing to learn, which is why she believes “the past ignite the light assemblies have been amazing” but that it is not enough to reach the people who turn a blind eye to their own biases.

Overall, Battle does not believe racism will ever go away, but does believe that “if we allow more people to learn and understand their own biases, the reduction of them will be immense.”