What happens when the majority protests?

Armored in orange, students all over the country left their classes on April 20 to protest the atrocities committed in their own classrooms. They walked out of class, took to the streets and protested on DC grounds, marching for their lives in record numbers.

However, some Black American students at CHS wonder: where were the walkouts when Black fathers were shot in their cars, when Black sons were shot while on their iPhones at the hands of the police?

Some Black students at CHS have reflected on what they believe to be a lack of support for Black lives during the recent increase of protests and media coverage of school shootings.

“I think that it’s good that kids are trying to do something about it, that they’re standing up for what they believe in,” said Christine Njogu, freshman.

However, some feel like it has minimized the ongoing violence against Black Americans that has been occurring for hundreds of years.

“I think that gun violence and police brutality should both be taken into account together, and it shouldn’t be one thing more concentrated on than the other, because both things have been happening,” said Njogu.

“Recently, because of all of the school shootings, I think that [gun violence has] been more of the popular thing to protest against, but now police brutality is a secondary thought,”

Leon Wambugu, Carrboro High sophomore, agrees.

“I do think police brutality has been swept under the rug because it’s  more of a minority issue, so it’s not been given as much attention: but school shootings, they’ve recently come up in the news. It doesn’t happen as often as police aggression so [school shootings are] reported much more often,” said Wambugu.

Wambugu compared the media coverage to that of plane crashes and car crashes.

“[It’s] like with plane crashes: they report them much more than car crashes because they happen less,” said  Wambugu.

Some Black students at CHS feel that the media’s lack of coverage of police brutality is para-
doxical.

“I think it’s kind of hypocritical that people care about guns when it comes to shooters, but they don’t care about the fact that law enforcement is supposed to protect you, but they’re also hurting a lot of people,” said Selia Lounes, sophomore. “I also think that it’s kind of annoying that people don’t talk about it anymore. Now that there’s a ton of shootings they’re taking more about that.”

Selia Lounes believes that the difference in the coverage and protesting is impacted by racial biases, and her twin sister, Louise Lounes, agreed.

“It’s a very different approach, not like one of them is more important than the other, but one of them definitely needs better attention” said Louise Lounes, CHS sophomore. “I don’t like saying it, but I do think it’s a race thing.”

Other students echo this sentiment. “I guess it’s a bigger issue because when white kids are being killed, they’re not being seen as dangerous,” said Wambugu.

Many other students shared this feeling of the media not supporting Black Americans as much as White Americans.

“They’re both big issues…they should both be dealt with at the same time, not put one in front of the other. I  have noticed there’s a lot more support for this ‘March for Our Lives’ than there has been than when the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests were going on,” said Selia Lounes.

“You see a lot of stuff about how when there were protests about ‘Black Lives Matter’ people got sent to jail, but when there were protests for ‘Enough is Enough’ people were getting free lodging and bus rides. It’s a very different approach, not like one of them is more important thanthe other, but one of them definitely needs better attention,” said Louise Lounes.

Overall, the interviewed students support the walkouts and protesting of gun violence in schools, but they also hope that the same energy will be put towards other forms of violence.

Tokyo 2022 (For Real)

Claire McDaniels, sophomore, trains approximately five hours a day and plans to make a splash at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Though not literally, of course.) Last year, McDaniels won the 1A/2A Diving State Championship for CHS as a freshman, and she plans to take her talent to the next level.

McDaniels is a competitive diver who sacrifices much of her free time for her sport.

“I go to morning practice on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. And then everyday after school,” said McDaniels. “Practice is two hours in the morning, three at night, and an hour after school on Wednesday and Saturday of weights. On the weekends I train two to four hours in one day,” said McDaniels via email.

She misses first and second period to dive, and last year she left school early for the same reason. To her, the time commitment is worth it.

“I dive at Duke, all the way in Durham. I enjoy it a lot… and I’m very passionate about it,” said McDaniels.

Still, it can be difficult to balance diving and academics.

“I just got back from a trip right now, and I’m kind of dealing with the stress of missing all of [school],” said McDaniels. “[I’ve traveled to] Florida, Texas, South Carolina, across the ocean… England.”

McDaniels’ practices consist of serious stretching, a warm up on the trampoline and tumbling. Finally, she practices the dives that she plans on performing in meets.

McDaniels’ interest in diving first piqued when her family introduced the sport to her at a young age; her brother and mom dove in college.

“I started diving because when I was little I saw my brother dive, and I thought it looked really cool and so I tried it out! Everyone in my family has dove a little bit. During the summer they all asked me to come watch them do their own tricks off our summer league diving board,” said McDaniels in an email.

McDaniels explained that getting into the Olympic trials is often the most difficult part of the Olympic experience.

“We start out with going to regionals, [and] this qualifies us to go to zones. At zones we get qualified for nationals. Then at nationals we go through a prelims, semifinals, and finals type of competition. After nationals you have to score and get a certain place in your age group in order to be qualified to go to trials,” said McDaniels via an email.

Still, her journey isn’t over once she reaches trials.

“At trials you do the same thing as national, and if you place first or second then you get put on the Olympic team and go to the Olympics,” said McDaniels via email.

McDaniels has experience with this process before, and she placed well in important competitions.

“Last year I went through this and got myself qualified for junior world nationals, which are equivalent to the Olympics but are in the opposite years of them, ” said McDaniels.

Although not admitted onto the Olympic team yet, McDaniels is confident that she’ll make the cut and represent America in the upcoming years in diving.

HBCU vs. PWI: A College Choice

Some students at CHS do not know what HBCUs are, and according to a survey conducted by the JagWire, those who know of these colleges have not considered attending one.

An HBCU is a historically black college or university created for African Americans to go to college after being deprived of education in America for hundreds of years. The first HBCU, Cheyney University, was founded in 1873, according to the web- site HBCU Lifestyle. After centuries of systemic oppression, black people now had a place to get higher education and better support  their homes by getting well-paying jobs.

Before 1873, America only had predominantly white institutions (PWIs) such as Wake Forest, UNC and Harvard.

“Historically Black Colleges and Universities are institutions of higher education in the United States that were established before 1964 with the  intention of serving the African American Community. These institutions have allowed African Americans to have an opportunity to become successful, productive citizens,” says website HBCU Connect. “They have disproved old stereotypes that stated that Blacks were ignorant or unable to learn and achieve as whites have.”

Contrary to popular belief, non-black students can and do attend HBCUs. In 2015, non-Black students made up 22 percent of students who attended HBCUs nationwide (NCES).

There are some teachers and staff at CHS who went to HBCUs. Rolesha Harris, CHCCS Speech Pathologist, went to North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro; for her Masters, she went to Central in Durham.

“I went to a predominantly white high school in Durham––all of my schooling was predominantly white from kindergarten all the way up through high school. I was determined to do something totally different, so I only wanted to go to an HBCU; I didn’t want to go anywhere  else,” said Harris.

Harris expressed that every student is different and should choose the best college for them.

“I think it really depends on the student. I feel like if you have an experience where you are a minority in the school, I think you do need to experience being in a majority or being in a setting with other people like you,” said Harris. “Even if you
don’t like it… see if you like it because it’s totally different when the culture is more of what you’re familiar with.”

According to Harris, everyone’s background is different, and some students might choose not to attend an HBCU.

“My daughter went to a predominantly black high school in Durham so she decided to go to a PWI,” said Harris. “Her high school experience was totally different than mine, so because of that, she kind of flip-flopped.”

English teacher Mintzy Paige agreed that HBCUs would be a great choice for many students at CHS. Paige went to North Carolina Central University, and chose an HBCU because she had previously went to predominantly white high schools. She wanted to know the experience of being a majority.

“I think HBCUs are important because they help students of color continue to have a place that they can
call their home. It allows them to feel safe and comfortable in their own skin,” said Paige. “They can give that home feeling that students of colors sometimes miss.”

“I recommend all students go to HBCUs. It doesn’t matter their color––I actually just had a conversation with some of my white AVID students about going to an HBCU… I think the experience would be good for any student,” said Paige.

Both Harris and Paige agree that students tend to overlook HBCUs despite the colleges’ abilities to provide great opportunities for success.

“It depends on the student, and where you feel more comfortable and where you will be the most successful,” said Harris.

Illustration by Nina Scott-Farquharson 

A Voice for Students of Color at CHS

In creating clubs specifically for African American students, two students hope to bring minority students together to express their opinions and to bond with one another.

Diamond Blue, senior, has created a club specifically for Black female students at Carrboro High this year. Her club, Black Girls 4 Black Girls, creates a safe space for Black girls to speak their minds without fear.

“It’s the first club in the ten years that the school has been built that is exclusive to only Black girls and Black women. It’s just a place where we’re completely allowed to say what we want; there’s no boundaries obviously. We’re being respectful. You have to; it’s just a safe environment,” said Blue.

Blue intends for Black Girls 4 Black Girls to not only combat the issues of being a minority in a predominantly white school but also combat the stereotypes surrounding women of color. She intends to make the school more inclusive and have the girls understand that they’re a family.

“Right now in America, division is at it’s peak. Obviously slavery and all of that caused division. We’re not unified, and we’re not joined together as one, so you see a lot [of drama] in the black community [among] females, ”said Blue.

“There are these, for lack of a better term, stupid wars between females.”

Blue works hard to make sure that every girl’s voice is heard and that no student is left behind.

“We have meetings, and we either have guests or we reach out to certain girls that might need extra guidance or help. We just talk to them and kind of guide them. Because the club just started having meetings (it’s fairly new), our agenda is a lot longer than what we’ve been able to accomplish thus far, but basically the club is where we box everybody else and everything else off,” said Blue.

Some peers have pushed back against Blue’s efforts to create the club.

“I’ve had more students than anything find it offensive, saying that it’s problematic because it’s not inclusive to everyone– saying that it’s exclusive – but America, for God’s sake, is not inclusive to everyone. I’ve definitely gotten into a couple arguments about why we need it and why it needs to happen,” said Blue.

For specifically Black and Hispanic boys at CHS, Chris Thompson, a junior, created the Kings Club to unify the male students and give them a voice.

“The purpose [of Kings Club] is to have a safe space for young Black boys at our school,” said Thompson. “We can speak about whatever it is that we need to speak about, and we’re going to touch base on…things that are going on in our classrooms and going around in our school that we need to change.”

The wellbeing of Black students is something he is extremely passionate about, and he is determined to make the club successful.

“Instead of all of us Black boys and Hispanic boys sitting in a principal’s office together, we can sit in one room together and be cool with each other and have a good time and talk about whatever and just be real; you don’t really get the chance to be real in the classroom,” said Thompson. “It’s definitely a good environment for us to be in and to get away.”

Many students feel that having Black Girls 4 Black Girls and Kings Club will unite the minorities at CHS and make the school a better environment for African American and Hispanic students. Now, they hope, all students can have a voice.

Diamond Blue (left) and Chris Thompson (right). Photo by Niya Fearrington.