‘I want to do whatever I can to help’ Students share perspectives following the BHS walkout
Reflections on racial and police bias in our school and community.
On Monday, April 19th, students walked out of school in solidarity against racial inequality and police brutality. The organization Minnesota Teen Activism planned the event, with several students leading the way, giving speeches and personal testimonies.
One student spoke out against what they see as bias in our school and local community, “All of the injustice that I’ve seen over the entirety of my life, from my family even, it’s frankly disgusting and I want to do whatever I can to help the people around me.” Another student expressed their perspective, “Saying that a person’s life matters shouldn’t be a political statement, it’s ridiculous that it has to be a hashtag.” Some speakers were more vulgar in their speech, one student saying “I’m tired of this police system that kills people. All cops are b******* and f*** the police.”
One of the primary speakers was BHS sophomore El-Sara Duopu. When asked how it felt to see her peers there in support of the movement, Duopu said, “It was really moving because even though not even half the school was there, at least some people had the courage to decide to go.” As for those who didn’t choose to attend the walkout, Duopu said “It depends on your reason but if you didn’t go just because your friends didn’t go or just because you’re close-minded, you should re-evaluate your values and what you actually think being a good citizen of the United States. A lot of people who didn’t go see themselves as patriots, but fighting for your fellow citizens rights shouldn’t be something that is made fun of or ignored.”
Although Duopu found the support of the movement in our community inspiring, she believes we still have a long way to go. Duopu encouraged her fellow students to stand up against bias. “Basically just not having any tolerance for it.” Duopu said “The more lenient you are with people the more they think it’s okay. If someone is ashamed of behaving that way, they’re not gonna do it. When you cast it aside – that goes for staff and students too – being silent is the equivalent of partaking in whatever someone’s doing that is negative.”
Some students within the school hold contrasting opinions but respect the cause of the protest. Sophomore Malaki Cabanting made a widely viewed snapchat post with a photograph of the walkout entitled “What bull s***” When later asked to elaborate on his feelings towards the protest he stated “I am not saying it was pointless, but I feel like it [police brutality] doesn’t really affect us in Buffalo, so I don’t think it [the walkout] was necessary here”. Elaborating on his controversial post, Cabanting said “I wanted to state my opinion. I thought that people would agree with me, and sometimes people are too afraid to say stuff that they believe in.”
There has been further talk of other potential walkouts for various causes but plans have not been finalized.