The Cypher: Black Male Empowerment Webinar Series is Reaching More Students in the District

Posted On Thursday May 13, 2021
Carter is a Grade 8 student from Southwood Public School who attended The Cypher: Black Male Empowerment Webinar Series.
Carter is a Grade 8 student from Southwood Public School who attended The Cypher: Black Male Empowerment Webinar Series.

Connecting Black Male Students with Role Models and Creating Positive Outcomes for the Future

The Durham District School Board (DDSB) is hosting The Cypher: Black Male Empowerment Webinar Series, but this year with a twist. The main purpose of Cypher remains the same, however this year instead of it being an in-person event, it is now a series of six webinars, some specifically customized to reach all Grade 6-8 students and staff, District-wide. This change is creating an opportunity to reach even more young Black male students, their peers and teachers than ever before. Cypher aims to break barriers and dismantle anti-Black racism in Durham. The organization of Cypher is a true collaboration of DDSB, the Equity Department, the Durham Black Educators’ Network (DBEN) as they strive to empower Black males.  

“The purpose was to provide a platform and space for Black males, Grades 6 to 8, to connect with each other, network with Black male role models, explore a wide range of academic pathways all while eliminating barriers to success,” explains Co-Chair of Cypher Kokhulani Yasodaran.

One of the most important components of the Cypher series is the connection that is developed between the students and the role models.

“It is a safe place where they can be themselves, they can have a voice and relate to Black men who look like them, talk like them and understand their challenges,” says Co-Chair of Cypher Lynda Dortelus. “It is important for Black male students to see successful Black men who broke the negative barriers that society has on the Black community.”

Carter is a Grade 8 student from Southwood Public School and he participated in the Cypher Series. He said that in the beginning he felt uncomfortable having these conversations, but he understood why they were so important. He has learned a lot and he hopes that DDSB continues to engage in these conversations with Black students and staff.

“The information empowered me. I am now aware of Black male stereotypes and how I may be perceived in my community and North America,” Carter says. “This Cypher also provided me with the tools I can use to succeed in the future and to inspire others to their full potential.”   

The series has created an opportunity for classes to have impactful conversations about, anti-Black racism, bias, microaggressions, allyship and so much more.

The first three sessions happened in February, in honour of Black History Month. The next sessions are planned for May 19 and 26 To view some of the previous webinars visit: https://sites.google.com/ddsb.ca/2021cypher/