Arcata High’s Diversity Clubs- The Black Student Union

Marisa Mendosa, Art Director

2nd February, 2021

The BSU logo representing Arcata High’s Black students and their mission to advocate for underrepresented students. (Graphic Credit: Rogue Russell)

The Black Student Union was founded in 2018 when current president Bella Volz-Broughton was a sophomore. Since its beginning, Volz-Broughton has been an officer of BSU as they attended conventions and organized the first Black History Month assembly last year. “It was honestly pretty frightening to speak in front of the whole school. This is because some students don’t think the information is worth learning or it doesn’t matter,” Volz-Broughton said. The club is hoping to present another virtual assembly this year with a goal of creating systemic change on the campus.

As a club, the goal of the BSU is to be “a supportive community for our Black and Brown students to not feel judged, discriminated, or hated due to the color of their skin,” as Volz-Broughton stated. She explains how in a Predominantly White Institution (PWI), having a BSU provides students of color a place to feel recognized with people who can understand similar hardships. “Our Black students feel lost and alone, because there isn’t much representation in our staff or literature learned. This gives us a community to talk about being Black and how we can make our campus more inclusive.”

The experience in BSU exposed Volz-Broughton to certain realities of discrimination on our campus. “Before this club, I was very unaware of the discrimination that happened behind the scenes on campus,” Volz-Broughton said. “Such as the backlash we received from admin when wanting our Black History Month assembly.” She and the former president, Nishyra Aaron Williams, took time out of multiple missed class periods to convince the administration to approve of the assembly. She stated the former principal was “constantly trying to give excuses to why the assembly couldn’t happen.” During these meetings, Volz-Broughton experienced microaggressions such as being told she sounded “angry or mad.”

Despite these difficult and new encounters she had faced since joining the club, Volz-Broughton is thankful for being a member and the impact it’s had on her personal identity within the Black community. “Growing up mixed in Humboldt is very difficult and I always felt very disconnected from being Black,” Volz-Broughton said, “until BSU showed me that I have a community.”

The community within the club hopes to influence and have impact on the broader community beyond just the high school. She believes the celebration of diversity and promotion of anti-racist behavior is essential in making widespread change. “I want to see us educating ourselves more through books and presentations so not only our Black students have more knowledge to combat racism, but also for our allies to have more resources to be anti-racist,” she said. “Black voices are as important as white voices and we deserve to be heard. We need to be heard; our struggles, our pain, and our oppression.”