BCA in Support of the Black Lives Matter Movement

BCA in Support of the Black Lives Matter Movement

Meghana Veldhuis

Since George Floyd’s unfortunate death on May 25th, 2020, discussions, protests, and movements addressing racial tensions and inequality have erupted throughout the country. Despite the virtual learning, BCA has been a part of these changes and the Black Lives Matter movement; specifically, 10th graders Anja Husemann, Irene Kim, and Leila Jeffries-El. These three student activists ran a fundraiser that allowed BCA students and faculty to contribute to small businesses in Minneapolis effected by protests and changes.

Beginning in June 8th, the three students collaborated with Custom Ink and the BCA student body to organize a fundraiser in which students could order shirts and sweaters. The money raised would go directly to the Midway United Neighbors United Funding Collaborative: Midway United funds small, local businesses in need.

The three decided to support Midway United because it seemed the most unanimously well-received organization. “We wanted to make it [the fundraiser] as least-political as possible,” said Irene, “while emphasizing this idea of diversity and unity.”

            Unity is exactly what the sold designs enforce, as Anja explained: “The front has the Back Lives Matter fist and BCA united to represent that we’re coming together to show our support. The back has the Earth with fists in different skin tones to show how we’re together supporting this issue.”

Leila justified their choice to do the fundraiser through Custom Ink because the money raised goes directly to Midway United, allowing for an efficient system.

Mostly, the three wanted to create a fundraiser that could incorporate as much of BCA as possible with as little room for difficulty as possible. Irene recounted that Google forms and surveys were sent to the student body asking what designs and patterns they would consider purchasing along with which organizations they would consider supporting. They found that a “BCA United” slogan was the most well-received due to its inclusivity and that supporting local businesses garnered the most positivity.

Irene explained her thinking. “People support the ideas of protests but might not support the actions of looting, but most people support funding underfunded businesses.”

Anja added that the idea of rebuilding an affected community resonated with nearly everybody, regardless of their specific political beliefs.

The fundraiser was open until June 25th—it was originally intended to close on June 23rd, but Anja explained that due to an overwhelming amount of student participation it was extended to parents, who needed extra time to place their orders. Leila helpfully simplified that.  “We just wanted to maximize sales.”

With this added time and the bonus of being able to donate without needing to order clothes, over 800 dollars was raised: less than the thousand-dollar goal, but nonetheless a huge sum.

The three concluded with the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement in the BCA community. Leila stated that BCA is a diverse school with a black population, but despite that she was hearing significantly more about the movement on social media then from school.

She added that she was inspired to take a stance that made sure others could contribute. “It is very important to do something to make sure that our voices can be heard. This is not just a trend; we at BCA are going to continue to support everyone. We’re going to try to make everybody feel supported.”

Anja believed that the Black Lives Matter movement woke up a lot of students and prompted them to educate themselves and shout out their opinions on the matter. Irene added that the deaths related to racism have added a particular gravity to the whole situation. She believed that they have helped students become aware of racial issues and have prompted them to call out such issues, and she hopes that in the future students will continue to call out cruel behavior.

The three provided helpful tips in which the average BCA student can be involved in the Black Lives Matter Movement: outside of singing petitions and participating in fundraisers, they prioritize education.

Leila put it eloquently: “A big thing is educating yourself. You don’t want to go into a cause blindly. Open your eyes and see that it’s not a political issue. Educating yourself is important. You don’t need to have all the money in the world, you don’t need to go to a thousand protests a day to show your support. Educate your family, educate people who you feel won’t be open to what you say, educate them and make them realize that there’s something wrong in this country and we need to try our best to fix it.”

The three also encourage joining organizations and activism. Irene explained that the Black Lives Matter movement has been around since 2013, and many credible organizations have been growing since then. Anja described a more personal route: using one’s own social media to contact and call out authority to demand justice.

Mostly, they believe that it’s important to acknowledge and address the systemic racism driving the movement. They argue that there have been racial inequalities since the founding of America, but by having “hard conversations” and encouraging others to educate themselves, we can all work together to bring large-scale changes.

The three finished by admitting that discussing inequality and racism can be difficult for students and that a support system is strongly called for. Luckily, BCA is saturated with professionals and compassionate people who are here for students.

Irene directly referenced the counselors and mental health specialists of BCA, while Leila appreciated her peers. Leila added that peers aren’t limited to one’s own grade and academy: she believes that seeing perspectives from people throughout the grades can be enlightening, and that the student body is generally receptive towards communication.

Anja, Irene, and Leila’s fundraiser through the Black Lives Matter movement will hopefully be a step that leads to a kinder and more accepting world. They feel that there are many ways for people to bring change, but that an important aspect of any change is education and effective communication. Luckily, BCA is known for its unique education and sympathetic students.

The most important thing though is clearly stated by Leila. “Keep an open mind, don’t try to be close minded, don’t try to force something down others’ throats, and try to understand them.”