One of the biggest questions I ask myself on the daily is, “What can I be doing to help amplify the voices of those who may be less fortunate than I am?”
Being a 15-year-old White person with no stable source of income though, there is not much I can personally do besides sharing information and calling out discrimination when I see it.
Lately, I’ve seen many of my peers share information about BLM and saving the environment as well on their social media. While it is incredibly refreshing to see younger people try to raise awareness for important societal issues, it seems like the activism ends there.
My peer group does not take the time to internalize the information they are consuming. By letting their friends make offensive jokes or perpetuate microaggressions against a certain group of people, they void out their social consciousness that they just posted online.
This type of performative activism needs to be addressed amongst our student body. Now is not the time to pose as an activist. Now is the time to follow through.
We as a school community are very lucky to live in such a diverse area, with people from all walks of life. Cultural and activist groups such as BSU, DREAM, MSA, SOAR, and Indo-Pak have been inviting students to sit in on their discussions about the problems they see within the school, and what they wish the school could change. Yet when given the opportunity to hear from first-hand perspectives about their experiences with racism, no one takes initiative.
To better advocate for marginalized communities, the first thing to do is to acknowledge your privilege. This is not to say you may face other forms of discrimination but refers to the fact that you do not face the struggles of the community.
An ally’s goal after that should be to actively listen to what the community is saying and wanting from allies; avoid trying to speak over them or telling them how to feel. Instead of speaking over these communities and telling other allies what they should and should not do, let them have the microphone. Let them be at the frontlines of their own fight. Being an ally is not about you.
If the North community can actively come together, listen to what people want from each other, and prioritize what individual communities need out of the school and the administration, then I have no doubt in my mind that we have accomplished what we have set to accomplish in our school community for years.
My opinion is not the only one out there regarding this important issue. To read comments from people of color directly on how Niles North can do better, click here.