Minority Scholars Program hosts town hall on stereotypes

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Sanjay Fernando

Students and staff gathered together at the end of the MSP town hall.

Senior MSP President Hasham Khan invited the audience to participate.

Watkins Mill High School’s Minority Scholars Program held its Stereotypes: Living with Labels Town Hall on Friday, February 18 to address the racial stereotypes plaguing Black, Latinx, and Asian communities.

“Our goal was to display what it’s like being in the shoes of people who’ve been personally affected by this worldwide issue,” senior MSP Secretary Magdaly Abrego said.

Members of MSP have worked together for the past month to create a detailed presentation and educate the community on the impact of racial stereotypes.

“I felt empowered at the town hall. I really felt like I was being represented,” junior MSP member Sarah Bamba said.

Seniors Emily Zhu and Khady Mbodj both shared heartfelt speeches about their struggles with racial stereotypes and labels that have been given to them. Zhu, as a Chinese-American, spoke about how COVID-19 strains her personal relationships with others and how society deems her a “virus.” She referenced the racist accusations many in the Asian community were subject to throughout the pandemic.

Mbodj spoke about her struggles as a Black woman being suppressed in the school system, comparing her experience as a women of her skin tone to being in prison.

“I was born in jail. Given a life sentence from the second I was born because of a gene that causes melanin pigmentation in my skin,” Mbodj said, in her speech. “Locked in a six-by-eight cell, restricted from the better part of society…This is the Black body’s destiny.”

Many students expressed that they connected to the town hall on a deeper level, explaining that the stereotypes discussed were spot-on with how they felt.

“It really made me feel like my student body [and] the people around me understood what I was going through,” Mbodj added. 

Staff and students at WMHS were brought together to learn about the hardships that students of color face in the school system.

The town hall brought students and teachers from all over the county. Student Member of the Board Hana O’Looney attended to learn more about the minority student experience and witness Watkins Mill’s dedication to these relevant student issues.

“I hope that it made everyone become aware of what goes on throughout the county and people’s minds,” senior MSP member Josh Derosier said. “They can see how the demographic varies between these schools.” 

After the town hall presentation, attendants gathered in the cafeteria to enjoy pizza, breadsticks, brownies, and drinks provided by the Parent Teacher Student Association to celebrate a successful event.

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