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Posted January 12, 2016

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Black Student Union Engages in ‘Real Talk’

Students at Del Norte High are tackling modern-day civil rights and race relations issues.

Members of the Black Student Union at Del Norte High School have been having some real serious lunch discussions this school year. As part of a series they're calling "Real Talk," the students have tackled such topics as systematic and institutional racism, white privilege and the "N" word.

The discussions, which take place every other week in teacher/BSU sponsor Stephanie Cooper's classroom, kick off with a YouTube video that then leads to a discussion on topics impacting modern-day civil rights and race relations.

In a recent session, the diverse group of students watched a video about an African American woman who was treated differently than her white sister-in-law at a grocery store. The students -- under the guidance of teacher/BSU sponsor Joseph Tenney -- then shared similar experiences, talked about their reactions and discussed how they might help make changes in the way people see and treat others.

"Racism and prejudice can't be solved by one race. It has to be a community effort. It has to be addressed by people working together," said junior Timothy Mondloch, who said the Real Talks have been eye opening for him. 

"We can help make changes starting at school," added junior Kaylah Russey, the BSU vice president who said she'd like to see other high school Black Student Unions follow in their footsteps.

One of the most meaningful talks that students had this year focused on the use of the N-word. It made students like BSU President Shavonne Betts, a senior, think differently about how casually the word that so many find offensive is used by many of her schoolmates.

There are times now, when I'm walking down the hallway and I hear people using the word that I feel uncomfortable," Betts said. "People don't understand the word's history. If they did, like we do now, they probably wouldn't use it."

Watch the CNN report, "How Does the N-word make you feel," that spurred the students' conversation.

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