The Council

COVID-19, climate change, racial injustice; the world is and has always been plagued by various humanitarian issues. However, we should continue to strive for what is right, with our passion for justice. That is exactly why ‘The Council’ was formed, a club formed for the purpose of raising awareness and setting goals to help tackle various humanitarian issues haunting our community and the globe.

The Council is going to be open-ended with many different systems in place to help set goals and accomplish them as efficiently as possible. This will be done with the help of the members and the sponsor. 

“I think it should be pretty open-ended. I think there should be a core group of officers, people who have titles and therefore have a recognition, you know, recognizing that they’re putting in the extra work. I’m not sure what those titles should be, but basically, someone to keep track of the meetings, someone to take notes at the meetings, somebody to create announcements that would go out. A lot of the structure is about communication, that’s the key thing. But then my suggestion would be to keep the rest of it open-ended, so if someone wants to have a committee that’s focused on, I don’t know mass incarceration, and maybe they would just want to bring awareness to mass incarceration, or someone wants to bring focus to what’s happening at the border, and kids being separated from their parents and raise awareness about that, you know, people could be encouraged to kind of set up their own committees. And that way you might have a group of people who are kind of friends already, and they will hang together and be more likely to accomplish whatever agenda they want to pursue, but The Council itself to me seems like is a wide enough concept that it’d be good to allow people to pursue whatever topics seem interesting to them,” Early College Teacher Tre Ronne said. “Now I do think that those committees should probably get the approval of the officers and the club sponsor, which I guess would be myself. I think they should get approval for things before they shoot them out to the community.”

There are many incentives to joining The Council. It can help make you more aware of how our society works.

“The most important thing is that the world doesn’t get better unless we put the effort in,” Ronne said. “And I know for myself, I’ve been struggling with how to do more. It’s really hard to do anything meaningful on your own, and so having a group that has common goals, common vision, and then works together, even if it’s just a small thing to raise [is a lot more efficient.] I’ve heard of students at the high school not being aware of the fact that there are children separated from their parents at the border, I mean, that is such a crucial thing; I remember when I was in college, I heard about things that completely changed my perspective on how society happens, so awareness is huge. Like I didn’t know that there was a school, and still is a school, within Fort Benning, Georgia, where they train Army soldiers. It used to be called the School of Americas, and they trained commandos basically. They would bring in South American militia members and soldiers, and they would train them how to disrupt South American governments, “they” training them meaning the United States, probably the CIA. Anyway, so raising awareness about these things is huge. And I think too as people work together on things like that, it feels better to actually do something rather than to just sit around and feel like the world is going to hell. I think, you know, resumes are there too, I think that’s important. I think we often talk about giving back to the community as civic stuff. I think we talked about giving back to the community in terms of food distribution, and [these] things [are] critical, they’re extremely important, but they don’t have a political component, they don’t have an edginess to them. But I think that doing things like raising awareness are similarly crucial civic engagement.”

There are ways to find out if The Council is for you or not. It can also help you find out more about not only the world, but who you are as a person.

“Just come and try it out,” Ronne said. “Also, let me throw this in there; work on social justice issues often brings up our own internal issues, like we all grew up in a racist, sexist, heterosexist, ableist, classist society, and that’s just the way that it’s set up, and that means that inevitably we ingest those ideas to some extent, and so then when we get into spaces and we are trying to work on dismantling oppression, inevitably it raises the fact that we still have some work to do on ourselves internally, so I would encourage someone not just to show up once, and if they find it’s uncomfortable, you know, that it’s not for them, [then] I think on the contrary if it’s uncomfortable but they’re willing to do the work, then that’s when it’s most important. Also, if someone has an anchor in for justice [it’s for them].”

A humanitarian reform club has been in the minds of teachers and students for a while. It’s great to have a space where we can voice our concerns.

“It’s something I had been wanting to do, to have a club at the high school where students can talk about social justice issues and organize together to do something about it,” Ronne said. “I figured it wouldn’t be a bunch of people sitting around saying ‘bleh, I don’t like the world,’ [of course], there is a lot of value in just having space where people can voice their unhappiness with certain things about society, so that was not good of me to disparage that, but I do believe that this will be a group based on [the members] in particular; a group that does some meaningful work.”

The Council has a lot of room for development; it could potentially get involved with local organizations down the line. This could help develop a connection with our school and the community and benefit it as a whole.

“There are issues locally that we can work on, and I’m hoping that The Council gets connected to organizations in a town like the NAACP, Rainbow Richmond, [and] there are people who’ve been wanting to get the human rights commission restarted. [There] was a commission that used to exist in Richmond [when] the funding was taken away; it was a city-level commission that investigated civil rights complaints, [and] there’s a group called Community and Unity, or Unity & Community. There are a lot of local groups that we can connect with, that are also doing this work, and we can work on particular issues, and there’s a lot, there are a ton of particular issues, even within the high school [that we can focus on],” Ronne said. “It would be great for students to be involved in recruiting more teachers of color, and retaining more teachers of color, and supporting more teachers of color, [and] it would be great if we could encourage the school board to foster anti-racism education, anti-racists in the curriculum, for students and also for staff, those are just two [of the] big things, and I know that some of the school board members are actually on board with this, so it’s just about people getting together for the movement, and keeping that movement going forward. But then we are, even if we don’t recognize it, intimately tied in with the rest of the world, so what happens at the border, what happens in China, you know, democracy being squashed in Hong Kong, these things do have a huge effect on us. The whole world is shifting, unfortunately towards a more right-wing populace and its anti-democratic populism, similar to what was happening before WW2, and I think it’s critical [we focus on these issues]. If you look at Bolsonaro and Brazil, if you look at Eastern Europe, and Hindu nationalism in India, a lot of what’s being promoted there is like old school human tribalism, where one group just wants to hate on another, and so what’s happening around the world has a huge impact on us. And so I think just raising awareness itself is very important.”

The Council is a group with a ton of opportunities. It has a very broad outlook that can be summarized in two words.

“The Council,” junior Jaime Perez-Orduno said.