BY EMILY PORTER
THE DAILY INDEPENDENT
RUSSELL Russell Middle School students gathered in the school gym for a presentation about bullying and racism from Zay Buffalo.
Buffalo, known professionally as Zaydok, is a rapper, pastor and speaker from New York state who travels to primarily suburban and impoverished areas.
Since February is Black History Month, Buffalo’s message for the students concerned racism and bullying. He began the presentation by asking the students why Black History Month existed.
Buffalo picked a student, Lillian, who answered honestly, the way only a child can.
“It’s to give respect to all the important black people,” she said.
Buffalo added to her answer telling the students that he doesn’t like that there has to be a Black History Month, but that things happened in the United States’ history before the students were born and so the month honors all black people.
He began asking the children about racism and bullying and what each of them meant, pointing out their similarities. He then had the students get up from the bleachers and gather in the middle of the gym floor. The lights were turned down and he showed photos of those who changed history. Among them were Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and William Lewis Moore.
Buffalo asked the students what the cost of freeing the slaves was. One student spoke up and said, “the Civil War.” He agreed, adding that a lot of blood was shed. He told the students that sometimes we have to fight force with force, but that doesn’t mean weapons such as guns and knives.
He questioned the students about how they can fight against racism and bullying, asking what forces they can use to make a change. Lillian, who kept wowing Buffalo with her answers, gently said, “by speaking up” and expressing feelings.
Buffalo told the children that speaking up against something wrong, expressing feelings and showing kindness are the greatest forces they can use to change the world.
“When you treat people with disrespect you can hurt them without even touching them,” he said. “Kindness can heal those wounds.”
Buffalo showed photos and told stories of abolitionists from the Civil War, those who were both black and white. He told the students that the two races coming together is what created change and they themselves can be abolitionists and provoke change — to stop bullying and racism.
“It ends with you making the decision to not be racist,” he said. “It ends with you making the decision to not bully.”
When Buffalo asked who believed that racism could one day not exist, every hand went up.
“This is our future,” he proudly said to the teachers standing around the room.
He ended the program by having the students repeat after him saying, “I believe racism can end and if it’s going to end, it starts with me.”
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