MILFORD — The Milford Board of Education has created an ad hoc committee with the purpose of drafting a resolution affirming its support of the district's work on race, equity and social justice.

“We are in a good place that we can learn from our students of color about [experiences] they’ve had, and it is time for us to do something,” Superintendent Anna Cutaia said. “It’s something that there is a culture and a will to take on right now.”

The committee is in the process of writing a resolution to create an “equal, socially just and anti-racist learning environment in Milford Public Schools,” where every child is “respected and valued for who they are, regardless of skin color or gender,” the proposed resolution says.

Students speak

During the meeting, Foran High School seniors Juanito Briones and Aliya Prosser shared their experiences as students of color in school, and in their community.

Aliya said as the only Black student in most of her classes and clubs, she has experienced micro-aggressions or racism in different ways that might go unnoticed. The most stereotypical microaggression she said she experiences is when others assume she is “really loud and bold and messy.”

She said she is not like that.

“I work hard. I try to just be a good person in general,” she said.

She said throughout her years in Milford Public Schools, she always felt she had “to put myself out there and really work hard and be dedicated, especially to my academics.”

She also said she can’t go to most hair salons in Milford because they don’t have accommodations for Black people’s hair.

Juanito, who came to the U.S. from the Philippines, said people often assume he and his family members are hired help.

“People think my parents are gardeners or I’m a gardener,” he said.

He added there is still thriving racism against Hispanics and Mexicans.

“It makes me feel really bad for the Hispanic and Mexican people. [While] I’m not actually in that ethnic group, I can feel what they’re experiencing every day,” he said.

Like Aliya, Juanito said that being a minority, he’s always felt he had to be really competitive in school.

“I’ve always had to be forced to push myself farther compared to my white peers,” he said.

Another form of racism Juanito said he experienced is being told he’s always spoken English so well.

“When I’m out in public talking in the Filipino language, they always say ‘You need to speak American, not Spanish,’” he said. “And I’m not even speaking Spanish.”

Additionally, he said because he’s Asian, people always assume he’s really good at math, which is not always the case.

Welcoming feedback

Cutaia said she often hears stories of well-intended adults in the Milford schools who may say or do the wrong thing in their treatment of people with color. She added, however, that it’s not done with malice.

The proposed resolution talks about students having the power to use their voice and the ability to change and improve their communities, nation and world.

A draft of the resolution will be presented to the full Board of Education on Monday, Nov. 23. The Board will consider this resolution over two meetings, with potential adoption at its December business meeting.

sfox@milfordmirror.com