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Breaking Barriers

Black Student Union looks to knock down stereotypes

KC Egbuta

KC Egbuta

Keonna Burnett, Editor

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Melanie Hollis isn’t surprised any more when she’s followed through a store. She’s accustomed to the suspicious looks she receives while walking through nice neighborhoods.

She is even used to people asking to touch her hair, although the answer is always “no.” That doesn’t mean she she’s ok with it.

“I know there’s other people out there that deal with these things, so that’s why it’s important for us to let people know how to deal with it, and why it’s not ok,” Hollis said.

Hollis knows other African American students endure many of the same things. That’s why she and senior Sebastian Stewart-Johnson started the Black Student Union.

“Sebastian and I were throwing around ideas and we mentioned that we should start a Black Student Union because we saw the MSA, the Spanish club, the ASO, so we were like, ‘Why not have a BSU?’

The organization is designed to highlight the importance of black culture, and its history. The goal of the club is to improve societal norms within the school and unify the student population. The hope is also to educate the African-American population, as well as those who aren’t black, on the importance of the culture.

The group is led by sponsors, as well as students who developed the initial idea by agreeing that it was time to put an end to being racially misrepresented, and misunderstood. Members will be expected to withhold certain qualities, and serve as role models to their classmates.

“Many people see African Americans as a threat to society in many different ways, and belittle us to infer that we’re not as smart or intelligent as other people can be. Though, through the BSU we will actively show how we can truly help all people, and make use of the influence we have,” Stewart-Johnson said.

Mr. Green, the head sponsor, said that knowing and appreciating your roots, and what people have overcome to give everyone the lives they live today and value the modern circumstances.

“Dating back to our ancestors and all that we’ve overcome as one, I think kids need to know that people have fought for them to have what they have now,” Green said. “It’s important for them to realize and acknowledge these things, because if they don’t, then they don’t know their history and it doesn’t mean anything to them.”

Green said many may not see such a need. Some argued that other students may feel divided or unwelcomed if they weren’t of the same ethnicity.

“For that, I have to ask, ‘Why don’t we need a BSU? Does it not encourage cultural appreciation?’ I could see why people would feel this way if we were saying it’s only for Black students, that’s separatism,” Hollis said. “But for us to say we want to educate everyone on the importance of black excellence, it’s just that. Black excellence, there’s white excellence, there’s everything excellence, excellence is excellence.”

The group meets every other Wednesday after school in C11.  

“We have food, we talk about real stuff, our sponsors are amazing, and we have a good time,” Hollis said.

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Breaking Barriers