The youth organizers of PBJ’s Training Institute held their end-of-the-year showcase on Saturday, May 14! The event was held at The Block 1750 and included food, a project gallery, and community conversation centered around the theme: “Let’s Talk About Sex, Stress, Stigma and Social Change.”
The afternoon began with the youth organizers sharing the projects they had been working on all semester, which examined comprehensive sex education, mental health in AP/IB programs, and LGBTQ+ inclusivity in high school history curriculum. The youth shared their findings through poster presentations and art displays. Attendees were invited to observe and talk with the youth about their projects and findings.
The second half of the event was focused on conversation. To begin, Elissa and Charissa led the attendees through an activity in which they asked a question with two possible answers, and participants had to move to one side of the room or the other based on their answer. For example, one question was, “Do you think stress and anxiety are necessary for being successful in school – yes or no?”
After this activity, the youth organizers led two fishbowl conversations. In a fishbowl, there is a small inner circle of participants who engage in conversation, while everyone else sits outside of the circle and observes. Participants may enter the inner circle if they wish to add to the conversation, and they may leave as they please. This format was used in order to create a space in which youth voices are heard and centered in conversation. The youth organizers brainstormed several questions ahead of time to guide the conversations. The youth followed the day’s theme and discussed sex, stress and stigma – primarily in schools. Several event attendees also added to the discussions – including parents, peers and educators.
The showcase concluded with PBJ celebrating another successful year of the Training Institute! The PBJ Coordinators thanked each student for their work with a small gift. We wish the best for our graduating seniors and can’t wait to see all of the great work the PBJ youth do in their futures!
Join Peers Building Justice for a free screening of “The Mask You Live In” on Tuesday, February 16 at 7 p.m. at Boulder High School. This documentary follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating the U.S.’s narrow definition of masculinity. All community members are welcome to attend! After the show, stick around to hear a panel discuss the film and their experiences with masculinity.
Since December, a group of Boulder County youth and adults have been working on a research project to better understand how and why people engage in social justice work. The group used a process called Participatory Action Research (PAR) to guide their work. PAR is an approach to research that challenges and complicates ideas around who creates knowledge and for what purpose. By centering community and individual experiences as rich sources of information, PAR looks to build off of what we already know about ourselves and our community in order to create grassroots solutions to community identified issues. It is a strengths based, truama-informed, and community-led method for educating and engaging in civic and social justice work. Based off of the research, which included interviews, social media posts, school surveys, conversation, and arts-based explorations of race and racial justice movements, the researchers arrived at 11 claims:
People are more likely to fight for the issues that affect them the most, and the more people understand about their personal stake in racial justice, the more passionate, engaged, and committed they are to working to resolve it
Moral or ethical reasons for engaging in racial justice work often stem from pity rather than identifying one’s personal stake. This can lead to less authentic and sustainable commitment to the cause.
People who do not understand how they are personally impacted by racial injustice are less likely to engage in racial justice work.
Since white people are less likely to understand their personal stake in racial justice, people of color tend to have a greater burden of fixing the problem of racial injustice and racism.
People are able to make a personal connection to racial justice work through other areas in their life where they experience marginalization. (For example, in our group, white queer* people and white females are more likely to participate in racial justice work along with people of color from all genders and sexual orientations.)
Guilt can lead people, especially white people, to engage in racial justice work.
Social movements tend to be focused on one cause that addresses one identity. Yet, as people we have multiple facets of our identities that affect one another. Therefore, it is important for social movements be inclusive of all aspects of people’s identities.
Some people externalize racism and white supremacy by denying personal responsibility or by denying its existence.
As a community, many fail to recognize the definition of racism as not just the use of derogatory terms or segregation, but also the oppression or judgement passed on a person based solely on race, including micro-aggressions and systemic biases.
In discussions surrounding racism, people often feel that if a person of their race is being attacked, then they are also being personally attacked, resulting in that person defending their ‘race’ and in turn themselves.
We, as a community, need to acknowledge that conversation surrounding racism should one of racist vs. non racist rather than black vs. white.
The researchers also articulated a counter narrative to the dominant stories that we are subjected to through mainstream media and education:
We want to establish a counter narrative to society’s tendency to define and in many ways confine people’s identities. We want to be able to self-identify and have it be recognized by everyone. We also have identities that don’t fit into any box, and we want those to be represented and seen. We think we are beautiful the way we are. We DO care about the kid in our class who gets made fun of. Color Blindness and assimilation are not the solution because there’s beauty in cultural diversity. We want to love ourselves for who we really are, and we want others to do the same. We don’t want to be limited in what we can or want to do in the world because of socially assigned identities, we want all of our complex selves to be visible and valued in our diverse cultures.
The students are still deciding how their research will drive future actions.
From Jennifer Newsom, director and writer of Miss Representation, “The Mask You Live In” documentary follows boys and young men as they struggle to stay true to themselves while negotiating US’s narrow definition of Masculinity. Please join Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN) and the Parent Engagement Network (PEN) on a screening of “The Mask You Live In” on Thursday, January 14th at 6pm at Centaurus High School. There will be a panel of community members, including faculty from Centaurus High and district attorney Stan Garnett, discussing the film and their experiences of masculinity afterward the show.
In preparation for MLK day,and with the support of the Youth Opportunities and Advisory Board, SPAN staff and interns, and a doctoral student from the School of Education at CU, Peers Building Justice is working with a team of youth and adults ranging from ages 12-35 on a Participatory Action Research Project looking at race and racial justice in Boulder County. The project started by establishing a research question to guide our work: How do our experiences and identities inform our approach to racial justice work? Youth, representing 6 Boulder Valley Schools, and adult partners from MESA, SPAN, CU Boulder, and Naropa, then determined research steps, established goals, selected data collection methods, and are collectively coding the data in order to compile findings in answer to their research question. Data sources include reflection from field journals, conversations with the group and with community members about race, racism, and racial justice movements, facebook posts, interviews from contemporary and historic racial justice advocates, such as MLK, and interviews with each other. The research team will compile their findings and present them in an interactive community event on January 18th at Alfalfa’s Community Room from 4-6pm. The event is open to everyone, with the goal of informing the audience members of the research findings and inviting them into conversation and action around racial justice issues in Boulder County and beyond.
In August, PBJ interns designed a research project looking at comprehensive sexual health education in BVSD. As part of the research process, interns critically assessed their own sex education experiences, conducted interviews with community members, synthesized their data into claims, and designed a survey for BVSD students that will hopefully launch during the school year.
In August, PBJ will launch its new summer program. The Summer Action Research Internship (ARI) is a six-day long participatory inquiry project that will look at sexual health education and policies in Boulder Valley School District. We believe that the knowledge that young people carry about their every day life experiences is invaluable for informing the structures, policies, and curriculum that directly affect them. Continue reading Summer Action Research Internship→
“Beauty and the Beast” starts with an unusual woman named Belle who, get this, is both beautiful and intelligent. Now Belle gives the audience hope that this might actually be a movie that accurately portrays women as three dimensional characters and human beings rather than dolls who are pretty and sing a lot. However, throughout the next eighty four minutes that argument is severely different. Continue reading Beauty and the Beast→