Students and lawmakers discuss racism on Pa. high school and college campuses

Written by on March 29, 2021

Students and lawmakers discuss racism on Pa. high school and college campuses

By Emily Rizzo / Keystone Crossroads

March 29, 2021

Photo by Keira Burton from Pexels

Democrats in the Pennsylvania State House held a hearing on March 25 to discuss racism on high school and college campuses.

Listen to the story.

State Rep. Maureen Madden (D-Monroe) hosted the hearing.

“I fundamentally believe that racism is a learned disease and we as a community have the power to actively unlearn it. I want to illuminate the issue as it impacts our education system which in turn shapes the health, happiness, and cultural climate of future generations,” Madden says.  

Ewan Johnson, who is Black, was a student on Temple University’s campus in 2017 when a white classmate directed a racial slur at him and two Black security guards. He took the complaint to school leadership, but says they prioritized the free speech of the white student.

“For the remainder of the semester I was not well, in about a month I lost 40 pounds, I wasn’t sleeping, my mom thought I was going to die, I failed all of my finals,” Johnson says. 

Johnson shared this incident with state lawmakers in the Democratic Policy Committee.

A range of experts offered solutions to the committee, including creating therapeutic spaces for students of color, mandatory campus-wide racial bias training for teachers and staff, and the recruitment of faculty of color. 

Others called for more inclusive curricula.

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