March 24, 2018. Washington, DC. March For Our Lives.
As a member of Girl He Heard, the socially-conscious theatre company I write and perform with, I’m often presented with performance opportunities at the hotspots of activism, but today I am using my voice to protest with fellow company members and our director, Kim.
“Parkland, Sandy Hook, Columbine.”
Gang violence? Police brutality?
No. School shootings only.
What about the Black and Hispanic students who are getting shot on a daily basis? You’re scared to go to school? So am I, but I’m also scared of selling CDs, of wearing a hoodie and holding skittles, of getting out my driver’s license, of awaiting trial. Of Living While Black: a dangerous crime in America.
My friend Nicoleta cries, “No one cares about gun violence until it happens to white people.”
Kim launches into a speech:
“It’s human nature. MLK knew they didn’t care until it affected their own people, but when they were finally listening, he jumped on and rode with it. That’s what we have to do now: jump on and ride with it, just make sure you’re included too.”
“My mother has always told me it’s only okay to cry if you cry with a purpose. We can tear up, sob, and mourn all we want, but it won’t change anything. We can cry, but it must be with a plan.” They look at me, nodding. Here, I was a military general, leading my women into a battle we may not see the end to. Our job is to continue the age-old fight that our ancestors started, whether we’ll be the ones to finish it or not. “We have to fill the city committees, state and national governments, everything we can, with people like us — people who look like us, who think like us, because Kim is right. No one is looking out for us. We have to take care of ourselves.”
From that moment on, I embraced the fact that I have to be at the frontlines for the issues I care about. I started in my own school. To attack bias in Bronx Science, I became a founding member of Equity Board.
“We know there are lots of problems in this school, but let’s pick one to tackle today,” the assistant principal suggested. Consisting of 20 principal-selected students, the mission of Equity Board is to make Bronx Science a more inclusive environment. As the home to a diverse student body, Bronx Science attracts people from all walks of life. However, our school isn’t perfect; prejudice persists.
“I think the most significant issue is our lack of unity. People tend to create cliques that exclude others. Unfortunately, these cliques are usually based on ethnicity,” I said. A list of potential solutions zoomed around inside my head: grade-wide mingling events, Respect For All lessons during homeroom, and more until… “What if we address bias in Health classes?”
So that became our goal. As you read this, we are developing an anti-bias curriculum to implement into Health classes for the next school year and planning an International Week where we share small anti-bias tasks that all students can perform such as reading news from varied sources and getting to know peers with different perspectives. My experience at the March For Our Lives motivated me to create change in my school, but I don’t plan on stopping there.
At the College of Human Ecology, I’ll be able to develop my problem-solving skills with individuals as solution-oriented as myself. With courses like Translation of Research into Policy and Practice for the Human Development major, I’ll learn how to implement my future research into several fields of study. Interdisciplinary problems call for interdisciplinary solutions, and the Human Development major will prepare me to attack social justice issues from all angles: psychology, medicine, and policy. The first step? Receiving a letter of acceptance from Cornell.