A Week Dedicated to Education and Inclusion: WeWeek

Leo Yang ’22

 On Monday, January 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Berkshire community gathered in Allen Theater, kicking off the 2022 WeWeek celebrations.

 WeWeek is a Berkshire tradition that dedicates a week to celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. First conceived by Noah Faison ’16 in 2014, the week falls in the middle of January with notable speakers, cultural presentations, and conversations about diversity throughout the classrooms and teams. 

 For its eight year anniversary, WeWeek 2022  is led by Ms. Akilah Edgerton, Dean of Diversity and Inclusion, alongside several student leaders that began the planning in December 2021. The team consists of a food committee which composed a menu with cuisines from different cultures throughout the week; the activities committee which organized theme-related weekend activities; and the MLK day celebration, in which the community welcomed writer and speaker Feminista Jones to our community to address the stories and legacies of Martin Luther King Jr.

 Feminista Jones is a renowned black feminism activist and social worker. An alum of the University of Pennsylvania, she has written for The Washington Post, Salon, TIME, and Ebony and authored Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminism is Changing the World from the Tweets to the Streets

 Jones led the community in exploring the changing contexts in the struggle for equity and freedom with her talk, “Where is the Dream of Martin Now?”, discussing the forgotten stories and struggles of the late great civil right activist. Surrounding this year’s theme “Real People, Not Good People, Equity and Justice are Habits of Mind, not Hashtags,” Jones’ talk reminded us that Martin Luther King Jr (whose birth name was Michael, as Jones shared) was a person who fought for the civil rights causes with resistance and sacrifices, instead of the peaceful image that has been taught in education systems for decades. 

 Jones’ presentation was well received by the Berkshire community. Her talk was humorous, engaging yet profound and thought-provoking, inspiring another generation of civil rights activists in the way that Dr. Martin Luther King inspired her. After Jones’ presentation, the community joined breakout sessions to further discuss and reflect upon the social injustices in our society. Jones also led a breakout session with student affinity group leaders. In the session, she discussed how the younger generation could contribute to civil rights activism through their identities, education, and experiences. The day ended with students reflecting what they had learned within their advisories. 

 Unfortunately, the WeWeek committee’s plans for an international dress day, a flag ceremony, and a presentation with SDLC participants, fell through. While WeWeek 2022 upheld the tradition and celebrated diversity and inclusion, there’s room for feedback and improvement, including the acknowledgement of intersectional identities across race, gender, nationality, religion, etc. 

 Three years ago during WeWeek 2019, the community enjoyed a performance by COMETRY that explored vulnerability, compassion, and community spirit, as well as filmmaker Taylor Sharp’s film Hoops Africa: Ubuntu Matters, which explores the concept of “Ubuntu”—an African philosophy meaning “I am, because you are.” While there are only a number of programs that Berkshire can organize given the time and resource constraints, it is time for us students to take initiative and brainstorm ideas that will enhance the WeWeek experience in the upcoming years.