Club Spotlight: Race in America

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Rebecca Kalimi ’23

There was a swarm of new clubs and new opportunities this year. One important new club that sparked the interest of Ramaz students is the “Race in America” club. This club discusses topics and debates relating to race in the United States. Race in America isn’t a club meant to persuade students in a specific direction. Rather, it’s meant to foster respectful discussions based on historical facts.

The club is unique in a number of ways. Both teachers and students lead the club. The Rampage asked Dr. Bernstein and Mr. Deutsch to comment on the different aspects of this club compared to the others at Ramaz. 

Eric ‘22, Daniel ‘23, and Rebecca ‘23 Kalimi are the student leaders of the club and they approached Dr. Bernstein in the middle of last year with a club idea based on current events. This club soon evolved into the Race in America Club.

Last Spring, Dr. Bernstein realized that it was important to clarify different issues and viewpoints relating to race in America, especially since June 2020, with the death of Geoge Floyd. He too noticed that although Ramaz students wanted to learn more about these topics, that they had no proper forum to learn, ask questions, and talk. As a result, the history department appointed student leaders to help create a “club that could serve as such a forum for deepening our understandings of a host of issues both historical and current.” The goal for this club is to deepen the student’s understanding of these matters for further action in these circumstances beyond high school. This club is also one of the most diverse because of the number of teachers involved. Dr. Bernstein thought it would be best to involve many teachers “so that a wide range of expertise could be offered”. The contribution of both students and teachers to this club is what makes this club an appropriate and comfortable space for members to express their honest opinions.

Mr. Deutsch commented on the idea that this club is not for any specific individual. This club is about a topic that affects our everyday life, so anyone can be able to join and express their opinions. “To that end, I think our effort to bring in any teachers who are interested reflects that.” This club is not designed to draw in students or teachers with specific interests; it’s intended to encourage conversation about an important subject that affects us all.

Mr. Letourneau agrees that now, more than ever, this club has a very important place in our school because of what is going on in the world. “This club is unique because the conversations and discussions we are looking to have with students are viewed as mature conversations reserved only for adults.  I strongly disagree with that thinking.”

Several recent events in America have highlighted race relations, such as the murders of George Floyd and Brianna Taylor and it’s important that we all have a better understanding of what is going on around us, and a better foundation for the future; this is exactly what the Race in America club strives to accomplish.