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A Recap of Racial Equity Day: Middle Schoolers Participate in a Full Day of Learning

Students in auditoriumIn celebration of Racial Equity Day, on Wednesday, April 26, Farragut Middle School students attended a full day of workshops featuring keynote speaker Maria Lopez-Nuñez, an environmental justice organizer with Ironbound Community Corporation. Lopez-Nuñez has played a major role in activating and uplifting her community while pushing for policies to address environmental injustice locally, regionally, and nationally.

The goals of Racial Equity Day were:

  • To create a learning environment, to explore, honor, and respect all people and cultures
  • To understand the influence of environm
  • ental “sacrifice zones” and their impact on race, equity and social justice
  • To strengthen environmental awareness so that students can become more engaged and informed citizens

To begin, students were given the following questions to answer individually and then in small groups:

  • How does the environment impact your daily life?
  • Share what you know about toxic waste sites and garbage disposal. At what point do you stop thinking about your garbage? 
  • What vocabulary comes to mind when you hear the phrase “environmental justice?” 
  • What do you think is a sacrifice zone? 

Two educational videos about racial equity and environmental injustice were shown afterward. Provided below are links to each.  

Students also watched a documentary called “The Sacrifice Zone,” which follows Lopez-Nuñez and other environmental justice fighters determined to break the cycle of poor communities of color. It takes place in the Ironbound district of Newark, New Jersey, one of the most toxic neighborhoods in the country. 

After seeing examples of community activism, and learning that individual actions (e.g. recycling, reusable bags) alone cannot lessen the problems of communities facing environmental challenges, Lopez-Nuñez took students through ways to support environmental justice efforts in Hastings and neighboring communities. 

It was an interactive day of knowledge sharing for all.