Black lives matter!


The Black Student Union at their movie night to see the movie Harriet. The club commonly holds out-of-school activities to connect what they talk about in the school to fun bonding activities.

In 2013, Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American boy, was shot and killed by a white man who received no legal punishment. This event led to the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement, the widely-known protest and campaign for racial equality. Beginning two years ago, students at the school decided to localize the movement and spread awareness to students of all races with the creation of the Black Lives Matter Club.

“We want to share the importance of understanding because understanding leads to
the elimination of ignorance and a lot of times, especially in affluent places like Arlington, there is [less explicit] racism, but there is ignorance and that ignorance leads to a bunch of other
problems that continue to affect the black community,” senior Ashton Taylor, vice president of the Black Lives Matter Club, said. “We want people to know it’s okay to ask questions so we can come to an understanding.”

There is a lot of history associated with mistreatment and terrorism of African American people. It has carried on to today. Even with Civil Rights Acts, constitutional amendments and societal efforts to create a free and equal community, there is still injustice due to race. Some students in the school do not feel that they have reached true equality and fair treatment.

“It becomes difficult when we’re constantly the minority and underestimated to the point where we feel like we’re losing a battle,” Jade Taylor said.

The Black Lives Matter Club (BLM) was created for students of all races to discuss issues and current events regarding the black community, as well as a place for students to voice their opinion on political and social injustices. The club is now led by senior president Jade Taylor, secretary junior Liana Tadesse and senior Ashton Taylor. Meetings are every other Monday in room 2212 after school.

“You don’t need to be black to want to learn about the issues black people face,” Jade Taylor said. “Trust me, the more the merrier. Learn as much as you can to help.”

Senior Claire Schulte has been a member of Black Lives Matter ever since her sophomore year. In previous years, she has made and gone to protests for the movement and participated in other racial justice activities with the club. As a long-term member, the club has made a great impact on her life.

“I gain a lot from just listening to other perspectives as it helps me recognize my own white privilege and how race affects all aspects of my life,” Schulte said. “I would recommend the club to everybody at the school. Race is such an important issue and when as a community we fail to talk about it, we let people of color bear these burdens on their own.”

The new Black Student Union (BSU) meets every other Wednesday in room 1317 or the Little Theater. According to co-founder senior Kristen Alleyne, the club was created this year for all students of color, inspired by the Black Lives Matter Club and congregation of students in Mr. James Sample’s room, the Equity and Excellence Coordinator. His room has created a refuge for them.

“If you have any issues with classes or discrimination or anything you go in and you talk to him, and I think once you have enough people going in there and talking to him then it ends up being a safe space for everyone,” Alleyne said. “When everyone has a collective safe space, then that becomes your union.”

Black Student Unions are more commonly found in predominantly white institutions, or where there are smaller minority communities. According to the school’s website, the school’s demographics are only 8 percent black or African American. Alleyne works with her co-president, junior Celeste Clark, to strengthen and uplift the black community through organized activities and discussions. Their purpose is to create a safe haven for students to discuss issues involving race in and out of the school and to learn more about black heritage.

“Some meetings we have intense conversations about current events, history, or significant parts of the black experience,” Clark said. “Other times we work on important skills that black people tend to lack in non-diverse settings such as confidence. We also try to incorporate fun into our meetings and often will have an entire meeting dedicated to relaxing.”

The leaders have put together many activities to celebrate black heritage. The club opened up with a cookout in the summer to attract incoming freshmen. Since then, students have partaken in movie nights and planning an upcoming party to celebrate culture with music and food. Members are also planning on creating other opportunities for students.

“We want to set up mentorship programs for our underclassmen, give them knowledge and tips and things that they’ll need for the future. [We want them to] just be able to thrive in whatever situation they are in,” Ashton Taylor said, who is also a member of the Black Student Union aside from his role in BLM.

As of now, The Black Student Union is working on the Black History Month assembly. The assembly is scheduled for February 14.

“We can’t disclose any of the details to you right now, it’s been a little bit of a secret, but I’ll say, it should be a good one,” Ashton Taylor said. “I like this one. It’s actually gonna be on Valentines Day.”

Alleyne and Clark hope to preserve the black culture in society with BSU, as well as create a safe haven for students to be more comfortable at school. They hope to catch the attention of all students of color, no matter background or first language.

“If you have a little bit of black in you, if you identify as black, if you want to know more about about your black heritage, then you need to come out to the club because we are super, super open to anyone of black heritage,” Alleyne said.

The Black Student Union is successful in its purpose. Students are able to relate to each other as well as destress from some of the things they have experienced in and out of school.

“I have gained friends who understand me,” Jade Taylor said. “It’s been a great experience to gain friends who are black in this predominantly white school who all desire to simply succeed in school like anyone else.”