By Zinnia Khan and Aya O’Neal, Print Opinion Editor and Arts Copy Editor
// Students in the Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) attended the Black Student Union (BSU) Summit on Sept. 18 at the Saint Mary’s Soda Center to engage in meaningful discussions about race and network with other Black students.
Along with over one hundred students from AUHSD schools, Stanley Middle School, and Orinda Intermediate School, many high school staff and faculty attended the summit. Acalanes faculty hope attending the BSU summit will help create a community for Black students on campus.
“I feel like just even knowing their faces and who they are can help me create that community that I think is like kind of lacking at Acalanes, just because a lot of students don’t feel super connected, and don’t necessarily know who to talk to on campus,” Acalanes Wellness Center In-Take Specialist Kiara Thomas said.
Thomas hopes after the summit that she can create a safe space for all Black students in the Wellness Center.
“I want to talk to as many Black students as possible and get them wellness support as well,” Thomas said.
One activity during the summit included a presentation by stand-up comic and television host Kamau Bell. In his presentation, Bell discussed how to take advantage of comedy and serious messaging to grab and maintain an audience’s attention. This message resonated with many students who participated in the talk.
“I want to be able to talk to my friends about important issues, but I also don’t want to make it seem so serious and make it seem like I’m trying to intimidate them,” Stanley Middle-school student Jamie Chen-Lichman said.
For some attendees, the summit was one of the few occasions in which they got to be surrounded by a community that could openly share their experiences as Black students.
“I like to see the community, but I also like the idea of being in a room full of people that look like me, which is not something that I get in my normal work week,” Thomas said.
In a primarily white-populated school district, many at the conference thought the summit was a valuable way to meet other Black students at the other schools.
“I feel like it’s a really nice way to connect everybody throughout the district… I just think it’s a better way to connect all the districts together because it’s BSU from each school, but there’s a really small black population at every school, and especially Acalanes,” Acalanes BSU Club President and senior Olivia Dawkins said.
Some who attended the summit hoped to create a larger community of Black students they could talk to about race-related topics.
“It’s important to participate in events like the BSU summit because it broadens your community, especially in a school with a large white majority, and it helps to be able to have a space where you can form connections with other black students and make friends that have automatic connections with you,” Miramonte BSU President and sophomore Christope Davis said.
Additionally, Acalanes BSU members attended the summit to improve club meetings at the high school by bringing in new input from the extended community.
“I’m looking forward to getting better conversations going, and I also want to start planning more with the other BSU leaders and also planning better club meetings,” Dawkins said.