Welcome to BSU!
By Sasha Smalls and Ahmya McMillan
Volume 1 Issue 2
November 24, 2020
Original logo by Sasha Smalls
Black Student Unions have been a space for advocacy and education operating in schools and universities around the country for decades. But where did this begin? During the Civil Rights Movement, in response to racial injustice, Jerry Varnado and James Garrett created the first Black Student Union at San Francisco State University, a predominately white campus. Vernando and Garret started a campus movement that demanded institutions of higher learning to address the needs of their black students. This has laid the groundwork for reform, advocacy, and change across many student bodies in various U.S. communities.
“Welcome to BSU!” The title for our first meeting that announced the revival and revamping of Valley Stream North High School’s very own Black Student Union. The club began last year as an effort by some Class of 2020 seniors to rally school spirit and support for the Black student demographic here at North. Kristina Dormeus, Carlton Paris, Tonei Laroche, Sydney Hunt, Amir Grant, along with our gracious advisors Assistant Principal Mrs. Small and Teacher Member Ms. Coleman, put BSU on the map. The current cabinet is grateful for much of the groundwork established by last year’s cabinet and acknowledge all the contributions they have made to get the ball rolling for this club. When COVID-19 hit Long Island and soon thereafter Valley Stream, the school went full-remote during the month of March. Over quarantine, BSU, like most clubs, found it challenging to make the switch to virtual. Gratefully, in all this chaos, we managed to hold elections for this year’s cabinet: President Sasha Smalls (Class of 2021), Vice President Tobi Adebowale (Class of 2021), Treasurer Chris Devis (Class of 2021), Secretary Mereddith Rony (Class of 2021), Head Event Coordinator (Ahmya McMillan Class of 2021), and Junior Council Member Ariana Paul (Class of 2022).
Over the summer of 2020, BSU was remodeled with a new mission and renewed perspective (not to mention a fantastic website and Instagram that you should check out - see below). Our mission is to enhance North's community. We are an inclusive organization open to students of all backgrounds. We desire to create a welcoming, judgment-free learning environment and safe space. Through a mixture of information and discussion, we serve to educate and inform the community. We want the conversations of our meetings to transfer out and positively affect how North students conduct themselves: respectfully, kindly, with integrity, and with the utmost confidence. With a focus on Black history and culture, BSU delves into perseverance and overcoming adversity. Discussing current events and topics gives our members insight concerning the minority youth of America. Above all, we emphasize embracing the younger students at North. The sooner they feel empowered, the sooner they can outwardly influence the community here at North and around the world.
Let’s discuss how we go about achieving all this. This year’s cabinet members sat down soon after our first club meeting and decided it would be best to do bi-weekly meetings. “Quality over quantity,” said Mrs. Small, and we all agreed. The cabinet meets independently twice. Once to solidify a club meeting topic, determine who will be designing the PowerPoint presentation, and discuss agenda items; then we meet again by Sunday to collaborate on the shared PowerPoint and delegate who speaks at what slide. By Tuesday, we have run everything by Mrs. Small, and we are ready to meet with our club. We have found that certain discussions warrant longer discussions, and we want to give everyone who desires, a chance to share. Therefore, we will have a longer discussion/meeting topic such as police brutality or political perspectives followed by a shorter meeting topic such as plans for Black Solidarity Day. We believe this balance is essential, or we fear we may lose the interest of club members who have to divide their time between schoolwork, jobs, and extracurriculars - much like the members of our cabinet. We acknowledge that the club is a Black Student Union, but we are an inclusive organization, as you may read in our mission statement. Our topics correlate with an issue plaguing the Black community members in America, but we also address other communities such as Latinx and Middle Eastern. We also put an emphasis on perspective and fervently exercise “playing the Devil’s advocate” during our meetings to balance the conversations.
Now that you have learned about BSU, we would love to hear from you! You can reach out via email, Instagram, our website, or Teams chat. We have listed all our information below.
Microsoft Teams code: zwf3p7w