TEAM Westport Teen Essay Contest

Monday, Jan 28, 2019 - Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

Population studies show that America is fast moving toward a “minority majority” nation and, according to studies by the US Census Bureau, Americans identifying as “white” only will be in the minority by 2042. Since 2014, the majority of students in the U.S. are part of the formerly minority ‘of color’ segment.

More than demographic statistics, these trends have significant social impact on daily life because even while the population diversifies there have been accelerating annual levels of racial, religious, ethnic and identity bias incidents nationwide. This complexity makes it increasingly more difficult for young people to absorb and consider a differently evolving America.

In order to facilitate clarity, awareness and understanding in this area the TEAM Westport Teen Essay Contest asks students to explore the concept of micro-aggressions towards marginalized groups. The contest is co-sponsored by TEAM Westport and The Westport Library for students in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 who attend Staples High School or another school in Westport, or reside in Westport and attend school elsewhere.

This year’s essay challenge states:
As defined by Derald Wing Sue, micro-aggressions are "the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults—whether intentional or unintentional—that communicate hostile derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their membership in marginalized groups." For example. an African-American is told. "When I look at you. I don't see color." An Asian-American—born and raised in this country—is told, "You speak very good English." A person of color accepted at an Ivy League school is told." You must be grateful for affirmative action."

In 1000 words or fewer, describe your experiences witnessing, delivering, and/or receiving Micro-Aggressions focused on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity, and describe the likely impact that such statements have upon the recipients. Consider steps that you believe organizations, schools, and/or individuals could take to greatly reduce or eliminate such behavior. In particular, what can students do to address incidents of Micro-Aggressions when they occur—whether as initiator, recipient or witness?

Applications for the contest will be available on the TEAM Westport website. Essays are due February 28, 2019. Winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Saugatuck Congregational Church, 245 Post Road East, on April 3, 2019 at 6:30 pm. Subject to the volume and caliber of entries received, at the discretion of the judges up to three prizes will be awarded. The first prize is $1,000, the second is $750, and the third prize is $500.

Individuals or organizations who would like to participate in sponsorship of the contest are invited to contribute via the website ( or by contacting TEAM Westport via info [at] teamwestport [dot] org. All contributions are deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Dan Woog's 06880 article on the contest.

TEAM Westportis the official Town committee focused on making Westport an increasingly welcoming, multicultural community with regard to race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and sexual identity. TEAM is an acronym standing for “Together Effectively Achieving Multiculturalism.” TEAM Westport was launched as a Selectman’s Task Force in 2003 and became a standing town committee in 2005.

Harold Bailey, TEAM Westport’s chair since its founding, says, “With the accelerating racial invective surrounding protest and patriotism, it is an important time for all citizens to reflect on what they genuinely believe in on both fronts. That is especially true for young people formulating views during their high school years. This year’s essay challenge provides a vehicle for reflection upon and expression of those views.”

TEAM Westport has developed a unique role by engaging the community in and drawing attention to issues surrounding multiculturalism and diversity -- making the invisible, visible. In addition to initiatives it implements directly, TEAM Westport partners with a wide range of municipal government and community institutions. Examples include conversations and lectures at the Westport Library; extensive co-programming with the Westport Country Playhouse; co-programming and diversity planning with Westport Schools; Co-programming and partnerships with Westport Police; co-programming with the Westport Historical Society; and programming with the Interfaith Clergy, the Interfaith Council and its member organizations.

High School, Grade 9
Teen, Writing

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