If you hadn’t heard, yesterday Lowell students walked out of class to protest ‘racist’ sign at their school:

In a news story on SF Gate, journalists explained:

“A group of roughly two-dozen students walked out of Lowell High School in San Francisco on Tuesday morning in response to an offensive sign posted at the school’s library windows in early February.

The sign, which was posted on Feb. 5, read “Black History Month #Gang” along with photos the school’s principal said “were insensitive to the racial stereotyping of black people that is far too prevalent in our society.” The sign also showed several hip-hop artists along with President Obama, according to the school.

While the message was removed, black students remained “outraged by the use of ‘#gang’ as it refers to Black students and Black history month negatively. In response to this clear anti-Blackness, past incidents of racism, and an uncomfortable climate for Black students, the Black Student Union (BSU)” scheduled the walk-out — according to the student youth group Afrikan Black Coalition.

Just after 9 a.m., at least a couple dozen students emerged from the school and stood in line at the main entrance holding signs that said “Black Minds Matter,” “Don’t Stereotype Us,” and “We Are Young Black Scholars.””

[Read more here.]

Later they converged at City Hall to speak about their experiences at Lowell.

“People don’t want to learn about different cultures at Lowell,” student Maya Bonner said. She told the story of how a fellow student refused to touch her, likening her skin to dirt and calling her dirty.

“You have to have confidence to be there,” said BSU vice president Chrislyn Earl. “Sometimes, I don’t feel like I belong there.”

[Read more here.]

Later that evening student leaders, families, concerned Lowell alumni and community members continued to voice their anger and frustration with the district for Lowell’s lack of engagement around eradicating racism at Lowell and in the district at large. As Rachel Norton posted in a recent blog “harrowing testimony from African-American students, parents and alumni of Lowell HS about a long tradition of racism and microaggression at the school”

I have to say it was very upsetting to hear that student in 2016 are still being treated with such disrespect by their fellow students and even by staff member. What is even more upsetting is hearing parents and alumni express similar experiences when they were students. It often feels like racism is an obstacle that we are powerless to address.

Nonetheless, it is our student leaders that give me so much hope! Lowell BSU students spoke up and showed us what Black leadership looks like! I am so thankful for their leadership and remain committed to supporting them in in making Lowell HS a school where all students feel valued, welcomed and supported. When it’s up, I’d recommend watching the SFGovTV video from the meeting to get both fired up and inspired by these young women. In the meantime, you can check out comments, photos and video from the Lowell twitter feed @theLowell including this video clip of Reverend Dr. Brown, President of the San Francisco NAACP

It’s not up to Lowell students to do this on their own. What can parents, teachers and community members can do in the larger SFUSD community to support these courageous young leaders?

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About alimcollins

Ali Collins is an educator, community organizer and mom. She lives with her husband and twin girls in San Francisco, CA.

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