Both Eureka and Arcata high schools have founded Black Student Unions this year. The Black Student Unions, or BSU’s, are designated safe places “for all of the African American students [and their allies] to come together and just talk about how we are being treated in the community and how we can make a difference in the school,” Senior Lavender Weburg, Arcata High BSU president and founder said.
“I felt it was important because [high school] is a big community filled with little communities that create it, so I felt like Black Student Union should have its own community,” Senior Ayana Watson, Eureka’s Black Student Union president and founder, stated.
Humboldt County school halls are predominately white. Eureka High student body is 53.8% white and only 2.3% black. Arcata student body is 67.7% white and only 1% black, according to the California Department of Education. Because of this, many black students feel as though they do not have a community or a place where they belong. “I grew up in a much more diverse place where at times I could be uncomfortable being the minority and I feel like that is how our African American population feels every day around here, and I wanted to make a bigger community so they feel like they have more people around them that know their struggle,” said biology and environmentals teacher, Ms. Kresge, who triples as the administrative advisor for Arcata’s BSU.
Sativa Younge, a member of Eureka High’s BSU and an African American student, explained how being in the club showed her that “[black students] are out there, which you don’t see so much around the halls.”
If every school integrated a Black Student Union into their extracurriculars, Sativa believes there would then be less adversity within the African American population. “I feel like black people would stop being so negative toward each other because there are a lot of black people who are negative to their own race. With these clubs in these schools, that would change and there would be less hatred toward ourselves,” Sativa says.
Sativa presumes that this conflict within the African American community is due to the fact that “people are ashamed of who they are. Since they can’t [hate] themselves, they do it to other people.”
The BSU’s not only open their arms wide to any black students, but also every student no matter their ethnicity. In fact, many allies, students of other ethnicities who join a Black Student Union, attend the BSU weekly meetings. “There are a lot of white students [and] students of Asian descent. [There are] all different types of students that come together,” Ayana said. Senior Zachary Poyen, an ally of Arcata’s BSU, said that allies “kind of get, like, a better perspective of how [black students] feel when you’re interacting [with each other].”
BSU’s have popped up nationwide at all different levels. Just in our very own county, we have BSU’s at both high school and university level. Humboldt State University has the largest BSU in our community with an estimate of one hundred members. “All schools should have Black Student Unions because if you have black students at your school, it’s something that makes them feel like they have a place and makes them feel like they aren’t outcasts” Ayana concluded.
Because it is a newborn club, the AHS BSU has run into a few issues, the biggest of which being that they have no money. They plan on joining Eureka and HSU in several upcoming fundraisers; such as a booth at Eureka and Arcata Arts Nights, car washes, bake sales, and maybe even a carnival.
Another main problem our BSU is facing is that there are not enough members joining. They plan on alleviating this issue by making meetings more fun as well as more educational and creating a better advertising system.
So, if you’re looking to join a new club, no matter your ethnicity, be sure to stop by Room 403, on Wednesdays and join the AHS Black Student Union.