Wilson students protest racism

Sophia Ibrahim

For many Black Tigers, life is a constant teeter-tottering between trying to maintain their time as teenagers and recognizing that because of the color of their skin, they are forced to protest, grow up quickly, and learn to protect themselves in a nation that refuses to afford them the same rights as their non-Black peers.

Following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, there was a surge of Black Lives Matter protests in DC, many of which were attended by Wilson students. Rising junior Nacala Williams also protested on May 31, walking from Howard University to The White House. Regarding the protest, Williams said, “I felt happy and angry at the same time. I was happy that there were so many people out there fighting for what they believe in. I was angry because I am fighting for Black people to live in peace and I am fighting for the end of racism and systemic racism.” She continued, “I am fighting to be treated like a person.” 

Williams did not experience any scenes of violence or rioting, and said the police at the event were “not bothering anybody.” She also explained that she doesn’t approve of rioting and violence, but [she] understands. “People riot when they are unheard, she said.” Rising junior Charlie Montgomery echoed a similar sentiment, saying, “I think that the protest is necessary. I don’t condone the looting, but I get it. However, it has nothing to do with what’s going on and sometimes they hit black-owned small businesses, which isn’t ideal. But people are tired. If this is the only way to get change, we need to do it.”

Graduated senior Maddy Kessler also protested on May 31, but she was at the Capitol. She deems her experience rather violent, explaining, “We had to jump a barricade to protect people from police advancing [and] we pushed the second barricade against the police momentum.” According to Kessler, the police escalated the situation by “pepper-spraying and shooting at people.” Kessler believes non-Black Wilson students, like herself, can be allies by, “[Promoting] Lexi [Brown]’s signs of justice, donating to organizations and bail funds, [and] talking to people.” 

Not to mention, “as a response to the extra-legal murder of Black men and Black people in the United States,” Kessler and Georgetown Day School graduated senior Ian Partman started the Ignite Collective. Ignite Collective is “a space for young artists to share their work, and have the voices of the youth be heard.” She explained, “We’re gonna put together an anthology of Black writers so we make sure we’re taking an account of the crazy events in the past few weeks.” They’ve started a book club, and have an online shop (www.ignitecollective.org) where stickers and art are being sold, the money from which is being used to “raise money for mutual aid funds in the area.”

Alik Schier, a fellow graduated senior, attended the June 2nd protests in Bethesda and saw protesters trying to get cops to kneel with them. He also observed “every single camera of news channels taking pictures of the kneeling. He believes it was, “taking away from the protests,” and worries that “this will turn into a feel-good story about ‘good cops.’’. He says, “You can’t ignore that they are still working in a racist system.” In regards to non-Black protesters like himself, he thinks they should support Black protestors by saying, “You do you, you continue the fight, I got your back, I’ll support you.” He cautions non-Black protesters against using the events for ‘clout’, saying, “This isn’t a protest to hold your sign and smile.”

Rising senior Mackenzie Evans says she protested because, “[She’s] tired of waking up every day hearing about another innocent black life being taken and tired of the way the system purposefully brings down Black people.” At the protest, she felt “hopeful”, because, “I was surrounded by so many people, all from different backgrounds. It made me realize that we are not alone in this fight.” 

Evans believes there will be progress due to the protests, stating, “Breonna and George were the tipping point. People are fed up, and we won’t stop until our voices are heard.” Evans also wants to remind Wilson students,  “Protesting isn’t the only way to support the black community during this time. Shop at black businesses, donate, sign petitions, check up on your black friends, and spread awareness. Remember that your silence is violence.”