The District Hosts Student-Led Forum on Black History Month

Malayna Chang, Staff Writer

The Diversify Our Narrative group hosted a district-wide student-led forum dedicated to Black History Month on Feb. 23 to foster conversations about race. The event lasted from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and was live-streamed on YouTube. 

“Black History Month gives The United States of America (and myself) a chance to reflect on not only the contributions that African Americans have made to our country but a chance to also reflect upon the struggles African Americans have had to endure up to present day in The USA,” panelist and Las Lomas High School teacher Therron Adams said.

Las Lomas High School senior Dina Mirmotalebisohi and sophomore Sara Valbuena moderated the conversation  while Adams, Las Lomas students junior Gabrielle Alfred, junior Nick Alfred, sophomore Haloniee Dangerfield, and Miramonte senior Zion Mayo spoke as panelists. Students from any of the four district schools were invited.

The forum focused on Black excellence and the achievements of Black people within a larger community, as well as the discrimination and prejudice that the African-American community often faces. The panelists engaged in conversations and discussions about race and how the color of their skin has affected their experiences in and out of school. The moderators structured the discussion by periodically asking questions for the panelists based on their personal experiences and stories. 

“It is important to have conversations about race and prejudice so that we can move and evolve towards a better future where people are treated equally. It helps bring awareness to all of the problems and issues that many people of color face. Talking about Black History Month especially educates people on the harsh history of America and shines light on the Black people who have influenced lives for the better,” Miramonte junior Eesha Datta said.

Some of the questions asked during the forum included “What does Black excellence mean to you” and “How has race impacted social life?” The conversation focused on all aspects of life affected by race, including mental health, bullying, social experiences, school, and microaggressions.

“These conversations are so important in an educational atmosphere, because it highlights the problems that race may create in advancement and success of Black students in the educational world which is one of the most important parts needed for the advancement of Black people everywhere,” Las Lomas junior  Gabrielle Alfred said.

The panelists were asked about being a Black student in a predominantly white school and how it affects their mental health. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know I was Black. Over the years, I have been forced to grapple with the fact that I don’t have to be friends with Black people just because they’re Black. I plastered on a smile and tried to be friends with everyone, and I had a very multicultural group of friends in middle school. However, there were instances when people would question the validity of my identity, which was really challenging,” Mayo said.