BSU gives students a voice


Rahima Baluch

Members of the Black Student Union pose for a picture after one of their weekly Wednesday after school meetings in room 926. Clockwise from top left: Dédé Stewart, Jaeonna Johnson, Osayi Stewart, Anisha Chowdhry.

In the face of rising nationalism and hate crimes in the U.S., a Black Student Union (BSU) was established at Inglemoor in August of 2018. Though it is not associated with the National Black Student Union, BSU has become a significant member of the school’s cultural clubs. The union strives to educate the student body on issues in the African American community, and it builds a safe community for students of color, vice president and senior Dédé Stewart said.

With a variety of events such as discussions and potlucks, the BSU offers students and community members alike a unique opportunity to share experiences and connect with others.

“The BSU is a safe place on campus for students to get together someplace that is dedicated to [students of color] and who they are,” BSU adviser and English teacher Joanna Walker said.

Despite not being a traditional BSU chapter where political activism is the priority, Walker said that the Inglemoor chapter is about the beauty and the emotional support of the black community.

“Some of the students … and the staff members are neglected,” Stewart said. “I would say we need a voice.”

Over snacks and tea, the BSU provides students with this platform to discuss anything from politics to the Black Lives Matter movement to the political climate of the country.

“Seeing the warmth [during the discussions] is my favorite part of the Black Student Union because sometimes it’s just a conversation about hair, braids, tangles, naps and just something silly like that,” Walker said. “But those are the conversations where people get together and share and connect. I just think that’s really awesome.”

The group said that discussion is essential to the school’s community, acting as a major player in instituting change.

Dédé Stewart said “discussing what makes us angry” is the first part of doing something for the community because “it makes us want to change something.”

Prior to BSU, Inglemoor has not had many cultural clubs. There had been a fledgling multicultural club in the 2017-2018 school year, but it is no longer meeting this year.

The BSU said they have decided to celebrate the African American community and are working toward diminishing negativity.

Junior Osayi Stewart, a member of BSU, said the club is different from what the school has seen before; the school and the community may start to become more accepting of the presence of a local BSU chapter and possible future changes.

“We will continue to grow,” Osayi Stewart said. “This group is not leaving because of any negative comments.”

This year, BSU has created and placed posters in Sherwood’s Forest that feature black artists and activists. Dédé Stewart said the posters created discussions around the school, prompting students to look for opportunities to learn more about the people of color featured on the posters.

BSU member and senior Anisha Chowdhry said the posters “helped give a platform for talking about a lot of these… topics that are very charged.”

Another event the BSU had was a potluck in December with parents and other Black Student Unions in the district. The club members said it brought the Northshore community together with discussion and food.

Looking ahead, BSU said they would like to involve as many cultures, heritages and ethnicities as they can — whether that be other clubs or other minority groups within the student body. BSU said discussion surrounding the African American community, other cultures and their struggles will then spread throughout the broader community and give a voice to all students.

“Everybody is welcome,” senior and BSU member Jaeonna Johnson said. “[BSU] is a safe place to talk about anything you want to talk about and express yourself.”