Racial Justice Dialogue Led by Loughlin

Faith, Service, and Community - these are more than just words at Bishop Loughlin. They are the building blocks to creating true Christian leaders; leaders who, like Christ, are willing to put others before themselves in the hope of creating a better world. The goal of Campus Ministry and Lasallian Youth at Bishop Loughlin is to educate and nurture our young leaders so that every one of them will truly “Enter to Learn, and Leave to Serve.”

We are grateful to Campus Minister, Michael Foley, who coordinated with the Lasallian Youth leaders on the following article. Nada and Helena authored much of the content.


On Wednesday, February 24, about 100 Lasallian Youth leaders from high schools throughout DENA (District of Eastern North America) met on Zoom for a listening session on Racial Justice.

Bishop Loughlin was extremely proud to lead the conversation with high schools ranging from Florida to Canada. Racial justice is a goal that many individuals seek to achieve and this was a step in that direction. The DENA administration did a great job of hosting and we were really happy to be a part of this journey. This was our first session with students from schools around the country. Although there was some anxiousness in the beginning, we were excited to see where the discussion might lead us.

President of Lasallian Youth, Helena Huerte, ’21

“As President of the Lasallian Youth Group, I really enjoy working with people who are willing to sacrifice their time to discuss very important topics with the goal of understanding how people feel, and the hope of changing the world in a better way. Bishop Loughlin has always encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and feel confident enough in myself to conduct meetings and lead. In doing so I have had wonderful opportunities to lead important and necessary meetings such as the Racial Justice session with fellow students throughout the country.

Minutes before the sessions began, I felt myself starting to get nervous. It was a group of people I had never met before and did not know how engaged they would be or how the flow of the session would go. However, as the session evolved, and people started responding to our questions, it felt wonderful knowing they all cared about the topic and they were respectful towards each other’s comments. I am grateful to have been a part of such a wonderful session and group of people.”

Vice President of Lasallian Youth, Nada Bain, '21

“Lasallian Youth has always had a special place in my heart. I feel blessed to have the opportunity to make a difference as the Vice President of the Lasallian Youth Group this year. During my time at Loughlin, this group has helped me develop my leadership, public speaking, and listening skills. It has taught me to be a better person through various community service opportunities. When Mr. Foley told me about the DENA Leadership Night, I jumped at the opportunity to partake.

Racial justice is a topic that must be made known! It is an issue that many men and women struggle with. It is important to hear the views of the younger generations and how we see racial justice and what it means to us. I was a little nervous about hosting this discussion because I know it is a very controversial topic. I prayed that it would go smoothly and we would complete everything on task. It was a success!

At first, students were a little reserved about speaking but then the discussion got “meaty”. I loved that I got to meet students of various schools, in various states, and of different ethnicities. They were respectful and kind to each other so there was no judgment passed. I would love to lead another discussion sometime soon.”

This discussion raised various questions. We began by asking "what does racial justice mean to you?" It was heartwarming to hear that many individuals of various ethnicities believed that racial justice was seeking equality and justice for all. We believed that this question was a necessary place to begin, because it gave insight as to what the group knew about the topic.

We also received responses from various students about their personal experiences with racism in their communities. A student talked about her feelings as an Asian American dealing with being blamed for the COVID pandemic. A white student spoke about how one side of her family were people of color and therefore she was treated somewhat differently. A third student shared that students at his school would occasionally make racist statements, and downplay them as simply “jokes”. Based on a lot of students’ experiences, racism is not taken seriously and many people feel comfortable saying offensive, hurtful, racist things and laugh it off because it’s “a joke” and move on.

After leading this discussion, we learned how important the topic of racial justice is throughout the country and beyond. We learned the importance of listening sessions, as they are a safe and "judgement free zone" to learn and share. We are both extremely thankful to the DENA leadership team for bringing together Lasallian high school students to share, listen, and make an action plan as we strive toward achieving racial justice.

 

Images:

  • Thumbnail: Vice President Nada Bain, '21 (left) and President Helena Huerte, '21 (right)
  • Below: President Helena Huerte, '21