UHS’ newest organization is CORE (community of racial equity) and its members are striving towards a more just and welcoming environment. . CORE plans on fundraising, completing community projects, and educating on racial injustices.
The group was brought to UHS by Kenji Backman and Mercy Barikor with the help of Ms. Hansen and Mrs. Hosley. Also involved in CORE, is Ryan Willamson, the coordinator for equity and inclusion at UHS. CORE held its first meeting in the LMC on September 11th where discussions about UHS’s role in injustice and the black lives matter movement took place.
Kenji Backman, CORE club facilitator describes the goals and creation in the club, “Through a scholarship program called James Jordan Scholars Leadership Institute, I was able to meet leaders from Valley’s CORE club, and the presentation they gave made me feel that it would benefit Urbandale to have one as well. As someone who comes from a relatively privileged background, I had not been very invested or educated in racial issues in the US, so although CORE had been on my mind, I did not start the process of starting the club. When the news of George Floyd’s killing became public I worked, like many others, to educate myself on America’s history of systemic racism, and was fully sure that Urbandale needed a CORE club, which is why I started the club. Many people are still ignorant to the history of government-aided systemic oppression of black Americans, and I feel that CORE can help spread that message and empower students of color in the school and the community. Being in CORE club means that you are committed to working towards racial equity, plain and simple. As for plans, at a statewide level CORE has a monthly “education schedule” where each month we teach students about a topic that pertains to racial equity. Knowledge is the ultimate armor in debate and the ultimate tool for change, so I feel that education is very important for working towards a better future. CORE also is involved with big events such as the White Privilege Symposium. As for the Urbandale chapter of CORE, one thing we’re working on right now is making and selling T-shirts in order to raise money to donate to small black-owned businesses and charities that are also working towards racial equity. CORE is also a place where students can share their experiences with an understanding and caring audience. This is why we start every meeting with an activity where each member and staff member says their name, pronoun, and high and low of the week. Through CORE we are working to cultivate a family of individuals all working towards the same goal.”
UHS senior and member of CORE, Mikayla Delaney shares her reason for joining, “I joined CORE to learn how to be a good ally. I think when race-related issues are brought up a lot of white people take a step back, which in some cases is appropriate such as people of color sharing their stories etc. But I think it’s also important to recognize that as a white person I am more likely to be listened to because of the color of my skin. I believe that at Urbandale High School there should be support systems for students of color, especially black students, at every opportunity, and I hope to help accomplish this through CORE.”
CORE club’s members aim to create a more inclusive and equitable future at UHS. To join, attend the meetings in the LMC after school every Friday.
Photo of the club members from the CORE club Instagram page, @uhscore