Truth About Hate Program sparks “Real Talk” on campus
On Monday, November 13, Hopkins students in grades 9–12 engaged in a Truth About Hate program with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The Hopkins Student Diversity Board invited the ADL to bring their program to Hopkins as part of their Real Talk Initiative. The Truth About Hate program aims to encourage dialogue about acts of bias and prejudice against people based on their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, age, disability or sexual orientation, and inspire students to speak out against stereotyping, jokes, name-calling, and rumors that are all seeds that can grow into prejudice, discrimination and hate.
The program began with an assembly in the Athletic Center. Student Organizers, Gunnar DeSantis '20, Mike Lazarre '18, and Priyanka Jain '19 kicked off the assembly with a welcome address and introduction of Joan Edwards, ADL moderator for the day. Edwards set the guidelines for the day, highlighting that Hopkins is a diverse group of individuals, and that even at Hopkins hate is a real presence. With the help of student volunteers, she introduced the ROPES ground rules: Respect, Openness, Participation, Escuchar (“to listen” in Spanish), and Safety.
Next, more student volunteers presented sketches demonstrating the definitions of stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination and bias. (See these sketches in the videos below.) Following the sketches, the community watched a clip from an ADL video “The Truth About Hate,” and were introduced to the Pyramid of Hate, a visual representation of how small acts of bias can develop into more violent and troubling actions if left unrecognized. To demonstrate this concept, students read anonymous comments from members of the Hopkins community from each level of the pyramid.
The next portion of assembly called upon the community to step up to the mic, and share their own stories. An overwhelming number of students chose to participate in the open mic, with a diverse range of stories being shared of allies, regrets, observations, and suggestions for being better allies. This portion of the program had a great impact on the community.
Following the open mic, the community broke for lunch before heading into small group breakout sessions made up of about 15 students with a student and adult co-facilitator team. Each group spent about an hour discussing the program so far and delving deeper into the problems of bias and discrimination at Hopkins. Each group was tasked with finding strategies for being a better ally.
The community returned to the Athletic Center to debrief and share ally strategies and challenges discovered in the breakout sessions. Thoughts from the audience were followed by a flash poem recited by students, and a performance by the Hopkins Choir,Woke up this Morning, a traditional freedom song, arranged by Jeffrey Douma which can be seen in the attached video. Student Organizers, Gunnar DeSantis '20, Mike Lazarre '18, and Priyanka Jain '19, closed the day with a message of hope and action.
Many thanks to the 48 students and 40 adults who volunteered as facilitators for the day, as well as the Hopkins Student Diversity Board, Amanda Friedman, Director of Equity & Community, Becky Harper, Equity & Community Program Associate, and the ADL facilitators Joan Edwards, Michelle Pincince and Jonah Cohen.
Hopkins is a private middle school and high school for grades 7-12. Located on a campus overlooking New Haven, CT, the School takes pride in its intellectually curious students as well as its dedicated faculty and staff.