The COVID-19 crisis did not deter Director of Equity and Inclusion Gardy Guituea from continuing the conversation surrounding equity and inclusion at Newark Academy. If anything, it helped push it further.
Starting shortly after returning from spring break for remote learning, NA students, faculty, and staff were invited to join an important discussion hosted by Gardy on how to build community in times of crisis. Like the learning experience for the foreseeable future, this would have to be done remotely while socially distancing.
However, collaborating through Zoom like the initial meeting didn’t mean annual events couldn’t happen. And so, the second annual “Hate Has No Home Here” was held on April 16. “After discussing with advisors, I thought it would be a good space to talk about the rise of Xenophobia due to COVID-19,” Gardy said. “A space to talk about your own thoughts and experience and highlight ways you’ve noticed things happened.”
It proved fortuitous, with nearly 40 participants in the Zoom room as Michaela Wang ’21 and Taylor Hagen ’20 served as the moderators for an intimate discussion. Middle School science teacher Deb Tavares provided the science behind COVID-19, playing the role of “mythbuster,” before a group activity. Participants were invited to create a work of art by drawing or completing a six-word essay, a la Race Card Project, which was created for participants to think about their experiences, questions, hopes, dreams, laments or observations about race and identity, and take those thoughts and distill them to just one sentence with six words, or simply a statement. Students were then encouraged that they can post it to social media if they are comfortable, doing so, tagging @NewarkAcademy and using the hashtags #HateHasNoHomeHere and #UsvsHate.