Scholars for Social Justice
The Scholars for Social Justice (SSJ) Program is made up of 11th and 12th grade scholars from the Buffalo Public Schools. Every year, each high school is invited to choose two scholar representatives for its school. These scholars participate in the District's Disproportionality Workshop Sessions, SSJ-specific training, and their schools' CLRI Teams. Scholars engage in literature on critical race theory and discuss tenets of youth social justice advocacy. Scholars work together to discuss, debate and reflect on the following essential question:
What does it mean to learn, live, and love as a young person in Buffalo?
This year, the Scholars for Social Justice are continuing to work with Dr. Jevon Hunter from Buffalo State College as he facilitates social justice discussions and activities to cultivate the genius of these scholars. Scholars are currently taking an indepth look at the definitions of racism and anti-racism and their impact upon Buffalo teens. Using their own experiences and experiences they have witnessed as a starting point for courageous dialogues, scholars are discussing such themes as racism: past and present, microaggressions, and uplift suasion. The Scholars for Social Justice are also looking at how social media can lead to social activism and language that can be used to inspire and create social change. The Scholars work will culimate their work in a final project, which they will present at Urban Forum 2021.
Through the fall and winter months, the scholars read and analyzed the book, Stamped, by Jason Reynolds and Dr. Ibram X. Kendi to ground them in the work they are doing around social justice advocacy in their schools and learning.
The January 2021 Disproportionality Session for Scholars kicked off "2021" with two community building activities focused on the following prompts, "If 2021 was a person, what would you say?" and "2021 will be a great year because..." Scholars anonymously wrote into a virtual question response system to speak their responses into existence. Some of the shared responses included, "2021 will be a great year because I will not give up!," "2021 will be a great year because I am going to graduate high school no matter what happens," and " 2021 will be a great year because I got accepted to my dream college." Scholars then engaged in an indepth discussion analyzing chapters 19 - 23 of Stamped. They focused on responding to the question, "Do you see a difference between fighting for civil rights and fighting for freedom?"
In the Fall of 2020, scholars responded to the question: "How can Buffalo teens work to challenge racism and other forms of oppression in Buffalo?"
"Educate themselves and others on what antiracist ideals look like; protest; if you see racism, call it out; don't be performative and say you're antiracist when you only do it because it 'makes you look good' on Instagram; etc." - Amaya Sonubi, School 195
"Right now, we can work through spreading awareness of the problem first through social media. For example, hashtags, sharing stories, and even videos. We can correct ourselves to make sure we're doing the right thing and also start with our family and surroundings. Also try to get it incorporated through lessons in our schools can be a way." - Azhane Bridges, School 304
"Make social media platforms and spread the word, visit schools to have discussions with other teens." - Jaden Coronado, School 192
Scholars from the SSJ Program present their action research projects at the annual Urban Forum on March 10, 2020.