Q&A with SAJE Fellow Amani Harris '24

September 21, 2020 Caitlin Burns

Arcadia University student Amani Harris
By John Stuetz '20M

Amani Harris '24 is a member of the first Social Action and Justice Education (SAJE) Fellowship cohort at Arcadia University. The fellowship will provide preparatory programs and leadership training for SAJE fellows to teach in culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms—aiming to address the nationwide shortage of educators of color by recruiting and retaining fellows who lead schools, programs, and educational opportunities geared toward diversity, equity, and social justice.

What is your hometown?
Philadelphia. Northeast area.

From what high school did you graduate?
Northeast High School.

What are some of your favorite hobbies? 
Playing basketball and video games.

Do you expect to find others with similar interests at Arcadia?
I’m hoping so. I’m looking forward to meeting people in the same major as me. I’m really excited about that. 

Who are a few musical artists that have been on your “quarantine playlist”? Any go-to tracks?
Michael Jackson. I always listen to him. It’s hard to pick a favorite song. But I just listen on my phone to playlists. Chloe x Haley. My sister and I are singers and we love singing them. And Allen Stone, too. One of my go-to songs is Brown Eyed Lover.

What are some of your favorite social media follows right now? Any reasons why?
I’m more of a Facebook person with my family and I’m a Twitter person, too. Videos from Leslie Jordan. I think he’s funny. I like people that can make me laugh.

The SAJE Fellowship is a cohort of students pursuing careers as educators for social justice. First, what led to your interest in pursuing the field of education?
When I went to elementary school, I thought it was decent school but I felt not as many teachers were as caring toward students. They didn’t take the time to get to know us. But in fifth grade I had this one teacher who nurtured us and shared proverbs with us every morning. She’s had one of the biggest impacts in my life. So I want to be that teacher that changes someone’s life. Teachers do kind of become like your parents. You see them even more than your parents.

Switching gears, it’s of course a unique time for our country, with renewed awareness and focus on the systemic racism that has long existed in America. Has anything stood out to you most regarding issues of race and social justice this year? 
I remember in my fifth grade year when Trayvon Martin [died]. Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Eric Garner…especially after the court hearings, I cried about a few of those situations. It seemed like after that, people tried to move past it. I wasn’t expecting situations to happen like they happened again recently. … I don’t think of it like it was just [George Floyd killed]. It could have been my dad, my brother. It’s upsetting. I’ve been happy about the support of the Black Lives Matter movement. At first people were against it. But now people realize what Black people go through. I’m happy about how people are responding. I’ve always wanted to go to protests. It’s uncomfortable because I don’t want to put my life in danger. I’ve seen videos of police officers hitting people and shooting people. It makes me not push as much on the issue. It makes me more quiet on the situation. It’s an uncomfortable situation… And the Breonna Taylor situation is super uncomfortable to me. Because you should feel safe at home… That could have been me. That could have been anyone. So you can’t be safe anywhere.

What is a quote you wish everyone would live by?
"Some people come in your life as lesson and others as a blessing."

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