Champions Unite Against Racial Bias

By United Way of King County, on November 3, 2017 | In Helping Students Graduate, News

Race and income should not determine the opportunities young people have in school. And yet, they do.

Black students are more likely to get punished—ie. suspended—for the same behaviors that others engage in. Without consequence.

This is not your typical cocktail event chatter.

Yet, this week, dozens of United Way supporters gathered to talk about the very important issue of how racism is impacting graduation rates – and what it means for our community long-term.

Cocktails & Community Conversations is a series of intimate events for United Way Champions and those interested in upping their involvement in our community.

Speakers included Stephan Blanford, Ed.D. a Seattle Schools board member and co-hosts Toni Townes-Whitley and Kathy Surace Smith—all United Way board members.

But even more talkative, were the guests. Questions for the experts in the room were a round of rapid fire in the best way. The group was digging deep on a difficult subject that many shy away from.

I didn’t get a lot of support in school. My teachers kept me in English Language Learner classes even after I had passed the requirements. They treated me like I didn’t have potential.

~ Nafisa, Reconnecting Youth participant and college student

Nafisa, a participant in United Way’s Reconnecting Youth program, shared her story of explicit racism to more subtle versions – and how the program has helped her get back on track. Of the 14,000 young people in King County who are not in school – and do not have a high school diploma or job – 60% are kids of color. It’s that sort of disproportionality that the group had gathered to discuss.

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