A speaker’s take on diversity


Ashlikay Castillo

Motivational diversity speaker Mr. Bukada Hayes speaks to Owatonna High School students on Tuesday, March 12.

On Tuesday, March 12 during TMM all sophomores and seniors were required to attend a guest speaker in the auditorium. Speaker Mr. Bukata Hayes came to OHS to speak about diversity. One of Mr. Hayes favorite parts of being a speaker to minors is the energy he receives back from the younger audience. He receives hope for future generations, as he sees the motivation some students have to be able to solve issues other generations have dealt with. Mr. Hayes originally got his college degree in exercise physiology, but soon after realized it was not the right path for him. Shortly after, he became an admissions counselor and minority recruiter in Mankato, MN. His goal was to lead students in the right direction after graduating from high school.

Mr. Hayes has now been a speaker for Greater Mankato Diversity Council for 13 years to speak more candidly and tried to make communities more inclusive. He has spoken to both children and adults, and has presented over 400 times in his career. He chose his career path with the intentions to help make societies and communities more peaceful, and he continually pushed to make a better future for his children.

My children, being mixed race, I wanted to work as hard as I could to try to make a community so they are seen as whole, complete individuals, and not parts of a whole. For me, it’s the really large ideal of peace and justice, but more specifically, the world my kids will inherit and how that will see them.

— Mr. Bukada Hayes

After hearing about the incident that occurred at Owatonna High School, Hayes said, “When I heard it, I thought it was unfortunate and I thought it was difficult to address. I thought it was needed to be addressed and we had to take decisive action which Owatonna Public Schools did. Ultimately it’s what we do now moving forward and how we repair the school and community fabric that was torn at with the incidents.” As a school and individually, he believes that we can better understand our experiences and how our experiences play into it.

He believes that we can help end discrimination by talking about why it happens. Hayes said, ”Part of the issue on why it happens is that we don’t have candid or as some say, courageous conversations about why it happens based on race, gender, class, religion, etc. We have to be willing to have conversations about why it happens.”

Currently, in Mankato, the diversity council is working on a ten-year initiative called ‘Respectfully We Discrimination Free By 2030.’ The Council is launching the idea in 2020, and working ten years to significantly reduce or eliminate discrimination in communities. Hayes said, “Discrimination is an action, we can’t necessarily change everything but we can change and foster an environment where negative actions based on difference can be reduced or eliminated, so I believe there is a way we can end discrimination.” He has previously visited schools like Saint Peter High School and Mankato Public Schools to change the environment and to better schools to be more inclusive.

Mr. Hayes will be visiting classrooms starting in early April and will continue into May. The goal is to get to as many classrooms as possible, starting with freshman then moving up each grade level. Mr. Mark Randall said, “The plan as of right now will be to combine a couple of classrooms together in a large group classroom.” It will be an extension of what was presented in the presentation. It will be more interactive and engaged and will go more in-depth in concepts around race, difference and will provide OHS with things that the student body can do with moving forward.