Topols Take on Threats to Democracy

Amid the current political climate in the United States, Boston Latin School Topol Fellows for Peace and Nonviolence held a discussion with students on threats to American democracy on March 24.

This interactive presentation aimed to inform students about political injustices that have plagued the U.S. in recent decades. The 20 attendees from across all grade levels were free to share their perspectives on American democracy. They also asked questions regarding its impact on the government and politics. The talk covered a variety of topics, including the January 6 insurrection, the recent uprising of white supremacist ideology, voter suppression laws and the presidency of Donald Trump.

The Topol Fellows were inspired to host the discussion after a slew of events back in November that sparked national outrage. Topol Fellow Jasmine Lee (I) notes, “We first started thinking about the topic around November because we were talking about the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. While we were talking about that, there was also a lot of stuff in the news about banned books. So those two things combined made us think about the overall topic of threats to our democracy.”

The Topol Fellows are a group that advocates for education and action on human rights issues locally, nationally and globally. This includes staying informed on the political climate of the United States, as the laws and systems of government that are being upheld today will greatly impact future generations.

Another Topol Fellow, Gabi Vasquez-Rosado (I), says, “I think that a big part of what inspired us to put on an event like this is our current political climate and how concerning it is and how relevant and impactful it is to each person here. So it’s not just an issue that impacts one group. But it’s a really widespread issue that a lot of younger people don’t know about.”

The presentation provided students with information that is not taught in academic classes, informing participants on real-world issues taking place. Many found it to be an eye-opening experience.

One participant, Jessica Tang (I), shares, “One of my most surprising takeaways from this event was that our government is strongly linked with large corporations. Companies with a lot of money are able to have a strong impact on our politics, which is something I did not know about.”

Topol Fellows and attendees alike were in agreement that understanding the rising dangers to American democracy are integral to being an informed global citizen.

Topol Fellow Tiffany Dang (I) explains, “These kids are [going to] be voting later on when they’re adults. And so it’s important that we start now to get the conversation started and get them involved in civic engagement.”