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Hampton Roads students learn to stand up against stereotypes

The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities held its 13th annual Diversity Dialogue Day in Norfolk on Wednesday.

NORFOLK, Va. — More than 60 high school students and educators across Hampton Roads took part in a workshop hoping to create more inclusive communities across Virginia.

“I hope to be that steppingstone that to kind of show people that you can start change,” Dre’nae Thomas said, a Granby High School Student.

These students hope to change the types of conversations that happen in their schools.

“Me and some of my friends have experienced stereotypes throughout our lives, and I think it’s important that we recognize it so that we can do better,” Sanjaya Satterthwaite said, a Granby High Student.

Wednesday, they got a chance to talk about their experiences and develop solutions through a Diversity Dialogue Day held by the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

The forum happened at Old Dominion University's Webb University Center.

“During the activity, we all had a lot in common, but we’ve never had a conversation with each other outside of this room," Satterthwaite said. "I thought that was really cool.”

“We know that if we want to transform our communities, we need to work with both adults and students,” Jessica Hawthorne said, the vice president of programs for the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities.

Hawthorne said this year’s theme focuses on stereotypes in schools.

“We’ve actually heard from students and educators across the state that we’re seeing increases in name-calling. We’re seeing increases that that may escalate to cases of physical harm being done to students,” she said.

Hawthorne said a lot of times these actions stem from stereotypes. She hopes students will not only recognize that language, but also learn to stand up against it.

“My hope for them is that they come in and build a community here and that community goes out into the larger community,” Hawthorne said.

Following today's workshop, the center plans to provide additional support to educators.

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