E-block – Auditorium: #BlackLivesMatter
March 17, 2016
Students and teachers from the high school, as well as community advocates and seniors from Boston Latin School came to discuss the #BlackLivesMatter movement, a phrase coined after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013.
Panelists included Brookline High School seniors Ronique Williams and Hal Triedman, English teacher Nick Rothstein, community activist Sharon Antra, and Boston Latin School students Maggie Noel and Kylie Webster.
As students entered the auditorium, the lights were dimmed and Chainz by Usher played through the speakers, while a slideshow showing pictures and descriptions of African-Americans who were victims of police shootings was played. After the video was finished, junior Ty West and senior Donnaya Brown began a organized question and answer session with the panelists.
West and Brown asked senior Hal Triedman why the #BlackLivesMatter movement needs to exist. Triedman responded by saying that the United States was “founded on racism,” so the movement is needed to raise awareness.
West and Brown then asked Webster, whose father is a police officer, what she thought about people who see the movement as inciting violence against police officers. “The #BlackLivesMatter movement is about the lack of desire to figure out what the movement’s about,” she said.
Triedman was asked what he thought of the #AllLivesMatter movement as compared to #BlackLivesMatter. He said that he finds the former “interesting, because what it is is White people reacting to an attack on their White privilege.”
English teacher Nick Rothstein followed Triedman’s remark by reflecting on his time at high school and saying that his African-American friends were arrested for crimes that he could get away with because of his White privilege.
One controversial comment made by Webster in response to a question about how other minorities, such as Asians and Hispanic/Latinos, fit into the #BlackLivesMatter movement, was “If you’re not Black, you’re White.”
Noel explained this further by offering the example that before the Civil Rights movement, if you weren’t White, you were expected to use the “Colored” bathrooms and drinking fountains.
Panelists also talked about the difference between equality, which is giving all groups an equal amount of support, and equity, which is giving groups support proportional to their disadvantages. The difference was illustrated in a handout that had been distributed to the audience.
Williams said that the main takeaway from the assembly, and from the #BlackLivesMatter movement, is “pro-Black doesn’t mean anti-White.”
As students left the assembly, they were given sheets of paper with ways they can get involved and show their support in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.