Racial Justice Alliances are clubs run by and for students. However, these clubs would not be possible without the advisors who open the doors of their classrooms and offer support to students in RJAs.
Advisors are behind-the-scenes advocates, allies, and mentors. They offer advice and assistance, while supporting students in making their own decisions and empowering students in their leadership.
To get a RJA started, adults can act as allies by:
- Offering positive encouragement and advice in starting a RJA club.
- Providing a safe space to meet and materials to use.
- Assisting in creating the RJA Constitution and Mission Statement.
- Promoting the club to teachers, staff, and administrators.
- Speaking up for students’ rights to express themselves and form clubs.
- Putting in extra time, for example working on weekends or after school.
- Stopping the use of slurs or other name-calling when they hear them in their spaces.
Once the club gets started, advisors can help it be effective by:
- Helping youth put together meeting agendas that reflect the needs of the club as determined by the students.
- Defining the differences in leadership roles and setting clear expectations for youth and adult allies.
- Stepping back once the club is organized and allowing youth to rise to occasion of running RJA.
- Making sure the students have all of the resources they need.
- Supporting youth in gaining leadership skills to run the club and facilitate meetings.
- Evaluating the structure and group dynamics of the club: Did youth or adults start the group? Who leads the group? Have both youth and adults always participated? Do adults overpower the group? As an adult, be sure that the youth share responsibilities. Be able to discuss responsibility with the youth, and allow them to finish their own tasks and responsibilities with help only when asked.
- Raising concerns about a particular project of the RJA by posing questions instead of handing down authoritative decisions.
Be an adult ally to a RJA club in the broader school environment by:
- Bringing up the club in staff meetings and asking for colleagues to support the club.
- Leaving club flyers in the teachers lounge.
- Inviting faculty and administration to RJA events and meetings.
- Locating other adult allies for support in addressing the antiracist climate at school.
- Intervening when a co-worker engages in racist comments or actions.
- Becoming familiar with federal and state laws, as well as district policies that protect students of color, and speaking up to administrators if those laws aren’t being followed.
- Taking leadership in bringing professional development opportunities to staff and/or creating a Racial Justice Alliance for staff.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the advisor email list.