Nicki Anyanwu '22
The back-to-school season usually feels like a fresh start to students across the globe; sadly, as an African American woman in 2020, I cannot relate. This summer was not refreshing nor relaxing for me in any way. Following George Floyd’s murder, a sudden cloud of grief and attention to the “Black Lives Matter” movement descended upon the United States. Many conflicting emotions were sparked within the Black community, and these emotions fuel much of the racial tension we feel today. Fortunately, I have the privilege of using this platform to address the unique tensions which form at a predominantly white (educational) institution (PWI)- or moreover a catalyst for these tensions.
Let’s get this straight: both NCS and STA got off to a rocky start when it came time to voice their support for BLM and, inherently, black students/ faculty; a lot of responsibility fell on students’ shoulders- Black students, of course. After NCS’ initial attempt at comforting black members of its community via virtual cathedral prayer failed, members of NCS’ Black Student Union initiated immediate and long-term institutional change for the benefit of POC students. It was daunting, the fact that we had to initiate systemic and institutional change as Black youth, but at least administration listens to us. We feel comfortable talking to adults like Dr. Brown-Allen and Sue Bosland, but I don’t think I can say the same for Black students at STA.
My problem with STA’s response wasn’t its nature, but more so that it came at the behest of disheartened students. News of a “Virtual Spring Music Festival” came before any display of empathy for the Black Community, and students across the close had to comment on this particular Instagram post before their pain was acknowledged. STA isn’t the “most white” private school in the US, but it’s definitely behind the curve in its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts.
I’d even argue that NCS sets an example for STA in how to treat minority students in a PWI. Louisa Kean ‘22, Julia Sherman ‘22, and I have moved to create WARAC, a white antiracist ally club, which should combat racism and general ignorance on the close; NCS administration was, of course, ecstatic to hear of our plans. Julia and Louisa are clear on the fact that racism isn’t a problem that people of color (POC) created nor need to resolve. This demonstration of ally ship is the reason why I stay at NCS; it’s just embarrassing that such tragedy had to strike before we took action as a community.
An institution’s response during a time of crisis defines it, and I empathize with any students of color who currently feel marginalized in PWIs. Is repressing your Blackness worth a high-quality education? Must we wait until after high school to feel seen and heard? Everyone’s waking up to the hardships that Black students face every day, and our schools shouldn’t be dragged along for the ride. They should rise up with us; otherwise, we Black students truly have no place on the close.