A local actor dropped by Lamont High on Wednesday afternoon (Oct.24) to have an awkward conversation with students.
Jesse Lipscombe is the co-founder of #MakeItAwkward, a movement Lipscombe and Edmonton mayor Don Iveson launched in September 2016 after some passersby yelled racial slurs at Lipscombe while he was taking part in a video shoot on an Edmonton street.
#MakeItAwkward aims to stamp out racism, sexism and homophobia by encouraging people to have uncomfortable conversations about prejudiced speech.
Prejudice can be hard to notice sometimes, Lipscombe told students, especially when it comes in the form of jokes or hastily made comments. Lipscombe encouraged students to not let hurtful words slide, but to talk about them instead.
“I learned that small things can impact people in big ways,” said Sameer Khamis, a Grade 11 student. “We have to be aware of what we say to each other, and consider the impact of our words, rather than the intent.”
Lipscombe, also an athlete and activist, told students that by taking a moment to think about their words and actions, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them, they are giving themselves permission to grow.
Lipscombe used a metaphor to help get his message across, telling students that in order for a lobster to grow, it needs to leave the security of its shell, becoming vulnerable until it can grow a larger one.
“There is power in vulnerability,” Lipscombe told his young audience. “Learn to be like a lobster, and don’t limit your ability to grow as a person.”
Lamont High guidance counsellor Penny Smith said the idea really resonated with students.
“Our past fears and insecurities are embedded in the shells we wear,” she said. “They protect us, but they also hold us back. In order to grow, we need to remove our barriers.”