Racial Awareness Seminar

The Racial Awareness Seminar, a year-long Social Studies elective taught by Malcolm Cawthorne and Kate Leslie, gives students an opportunity to explore the complexities of race within their national and local communities. Offered to sophomores, the class aims to educate students about racial identity early in their high school careers so that they can use this knowledge as they move through BHS to create a safer, more welcoming environment for students of all backgrounds.

The class is uniquely structured and purposefully planned to foster conversations across race and identity lines and to build community among students of different racial backgrounds. It is made up of an equal number of students of color and white students, and an effort has been made to balance gender identities to ensure a diversity of experience. The seminar-style class fosters students’ reflection about their own identities and the identities of others. Students share their experiences and learn from their classmates to develop a greater understanding across racial identification lines.

The Racial Awareness Seminar does not teach a specific history or a new language; it does not teach activism. The class looks inward and focuses on the students, giving them the vocabulary to engage with difficult racial issues and the skills needed to have fruitful discussions about these issues. The focus is on listening, and on the use of protocols to allow for inclusive, balanced and productive conversations. The aim is to foster a learning community where students embrace and are empowered by the rich diversity of identities and perspectives at BHS.