Black Joy: Students reflect on 2022 Black Student Summit

Despite a water main break that forced last-minute changes, the ETHS Black Student Summit was held as part of the school’s Social Consciousness Series on Thursday Feb. 10. Starting in 2014, the Social Consciousness Series is an initiative which focuses on centering identity and race through critical reflection and the creation of intentional spaces.

The event was originally planned to be held in two half-day formats with freshman and sophomores attending on Wednesday of that week, and upperclassmen attending on Thursday. Yet, due to a water main break on Lake St. near ETHS, Wednesday’s schedule was postponed entirely to Thursday. Working quickly, the planning committee ultimately ensured all students who had signed up were able to participate in the workshops and affinity spaces by reshaping the schedule to include all students on Thursday. The quick change in schedule resulted underclassmen attending on Thursday morning and upperclassmen attending in the afternoon. 

The 2022 Black Student Summit was organized by a planning committee composed of ETHS students, teachers and administrators as well as community members. The theme for this year’s summit was Black Joy. 

“I enjoyed the overall ambiance of it. Black joy is something that is so seldom celebrated, so to not only celebrate it but run a workshop that focused on how to keep students striving towards things that will bring them joy was a refreshing change,” senior and Black Student Summit facilitator Serena Brown said.

The summit began with an opening ceremony, followed by a series of workshops and affinity spaces for which students could sign up. These workshops included discussions on mental health, natural hair care, crafting, creating vision boards and an HBCU panel. Students were also able to participate in affinity spaces, including but not limited to “Got Joy?” and “The Check-in”. These affinity spaces were intended to foster community and discuss shared experiences. Despite the summit only spanning half the school day, with some students attending during the morning and some during the afternoon, all student attendees were provided lunch from Soul and Smoke, a Black-owned restaurant in Evanston. 

“What I liked about the summit was all the athletes coming together and talking about the pros and cons of being a student athlete,” senior Raivyn Summers shared. 

After the 2021 Black Student Summit was held virtually, facilitators of the event were excited to return to the in-person format that many of them had experienced previously as underclassmen. This year, they hoped the summit could provide a joyful and inspiring message to students.

“The theme was ‘Joy,’ and while the past years have focused on overcoming, this year was focused on just being plain happy,” Brown said. “There is a really grim history of Black people in America, and while it should always be remembered, it’s not all that defines us. There are many good things to celebrate about ourselves and our culture, and that’s why the theme ‘Joy’ was so perfect.”