Let’s not be complacent; less talk, more action is needed to address race


Source: Brock University

Whenever Niles North decides to take a stand on racism, oftentimes, the student body feels that the response falls just short. 

It’s not that the administration isn’t trying to take action, but rather, how deeply are they listening to their students? What could happen if students had full autonomy over their demonstrations? The sit-in last week on February 18 missed the mark of completely fulfilling students’ desires to fight for racial justice. 

Niles North’s sit-in was a demonstration aimed to be a response to the recent racist incidents that occurred at Niles West at the beginning of the month. According to Niles West News, during a mask mandate walkout, students were reported to be shouting the N-Word, along with making monkey noises, at a group of Black students wearing masks. This incident spurred a student-led protest on that same day (Feb 18) at West, thus encouraging North to do something to take a stand as well. 

While the Feb. 18 sit-in at North was extremely successful and hosted a packed audience, the conversation about the actual incident only scratched the surface. Instead, the conversation sparked interesting ideas about how to truly start making a change in our community. However, the intended purpose- to talk about the anti-Black speech that actually happened – got buried underneath everything else.

This is not to say that the administration isn’t trying their best; often, they are doing everything they can so that events like these run as smoothly and safely as possible, which are both much-needed concerns to address. But when North decides to host events like these, they often feel too “organized,” leading people to feel that they did not really accomplish anything significant. Unfortunately, these kinds of events then come off as performative, rather than creating active and concrete change.

Unfortunately, these kinds of events then come off as performative, rather than creating active and concrete change.

If the kids were in charge, would the assembly have looked a little different? Did all of the students involved feel like active and concrete changes are on the horizon, or did they feel like it was “just another assembly?” 

On February 23, Niles West’s student body held their fourth protest of the month, letting students speak their truths about feeling marginalized in their school. No invited speakers. No news crews. Just kids passionately voicing the call for the need for immediate change regarding racial justice in the district. The students were also marked unexcused absent for their participation in the rally. Good trouble.

If North students had more control and more time to plan and publicize their sit-in on the 18th, maybe more permanent solutions could have emerged. 

With the mask mandate being lifted on February 28, do students really know how to behave? If Niles North does not step up with clear expectations that everybody understands and will follow, it is very much possible that we can see a repeat of the anti-Black incidents that happened at West happen at North. Let’s hope that North’s expectations of behavior do not fall short.