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Noellemarie De-Chalus Barnes Speaks On Her Experience With Discrimination

By: Sammantha Lim and Noellemarie De-Chalus Barnes, Grade 12

          Black History Month recognizes and celebrates the sacrifices, contributions and achievements of Black people. The school’s Black Student Union holds various meetings to discuss recent and historical topics, voice their personal opinions and share topics on Black culture and their individual backgrounds. 

          Senior Noellemarie De-Chalus Barnes is a member of the Black Student Union and acknowledges her personal feelings of exclusion throughout the years. “Many times I felt like my racial status wasn’t accepted or was looked down on. I usually felt this way because of how casually racist comments or jokes were thrown around in class or hallways by fellow students,” Barnes said. 

          In various situations such as group projects in class, she felt as if her opinions weren’t being heard or recognized as much as other non-Black students were. “I would contribute ideas to a group project and be completely ignored and later on another student who was non-Black would repeat my exact same idea and get praise. I’ve talked to other Black students and it seems like it’s a common occurrence. There could be a lot of improvements,” Barnes said.

          Teachers could contribute to being more aware of these issues of discrimination that occur on a continuous basis. “If staff and students were more conscious of their comments of microaggressions and make it a daily habit then they could make every race feel comfortable in a space where they should feel welcomed in,” Barnes said.

          Over time, she feels as if the school has gradually taken positive steps toward the recognition of racism. The issues off the property, however, are rarely taken into seriousness. “There have been small improvements in the activism and consciousness of racial issues that regularly happen on campus but not as much about incidents that happen off the school property and/or on social media,” Barnes said

          As protests spiked in the summer following George Floyd’s death and countless other violent attacks on Black people, it is increasingly important to continuously grow activism around Black Lives Matter. “Most of the ‘hype’ around BLM from the summer has died down and I know it was bound to happen because efforts of ‘activism’ was performative,” Barnes said.

          Despite slow and steady progress, present day current events of racism and discrimantion are still an issue that cannot be simply resolved anytime soon, meaning communities should remain persistent in improving widespread inclusion. “Racism is alive and well; it’s not going away anytime soon but I’m glad that I have the opportunity to use my voice and talk about my experiences and opinions,” Barnes said. 

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