From University Academy delegate, Shawndrea Magee:
Community 360 is an organization I became affiliated with at the end of my sophomore year of high school. It involves confronting racism, sexism, hetorosex-ism, and class-ism head on and challenging those with negative beliefs. I volunteer as a counselor and mentor, and I speak to young people in the inner city and of more privileged neighborhoods about how certain behaviors contribute to “the isms.” Most of the meetings consist of a group of kids of varying backgrounds, counselors and mentors, and chaperons. We talk about how everyone’s experiences in the group are similar and how we can come to common ground on understating one another.
I was introduced to the program as a delegate- someone who worked with the counselors and learned from them rather than teaching. As a delegate, you have to literally let your guard down, not be afraid to cry in front of everyone, and admit the things you do that contribute to prejudice or discrimination. It seemed taboo at first, but I realized that small things we pay no mind to like the phrase “that’s gay,” or “hey guys” can be extremely offensive. It’s made me more conscious to the things I do wrong and things other people do that I should not accept.
I’ve learned a lot about myself through this experience as well. Before, I wasn’t aware of the prejudices that are left in the world. I ignorantly believed that racism and sexism were a thing of the past and not something the modern world should prioritize. I’ve used my delegate and mentor experiences to come to the conclusion that as a young black woman, I have an obligation to recognize and attempt to change things that aren’t fair to me and people like me.
I’ve used what I learned outside of the program at school; I did an activity in which I started every day for a week with twenty-five pennies and gave one to someone close by every time I perpetuated one of the isms, whether I did or said something. As the week went on, I noticed it took longer and longer to use up my pennies. After explaining to my peers what I was doing, I actually convinced two people to join Community 360.
Community 360 gives me hope that there is a way for everyone to relate to one another and that there really is good in everyone. It’s usually hard for me to relate to so many different people, but I’ve strengthened my friendships and made new ones with people I thought I was completely different than. I will certainly take what I’ve learned to college with me and beyond, with the goal of having millions of others having the experience I had.