After 18 months that nobody could have predicted, we finally get to return to school as the world adapts to life with the decline of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, this is a joyous step forward. Sadly, for many others, especially people of color, their lives have been permanently changed throughout this pandemic. From the disproportionate infection rates to police brutality, for many people of color, this last year and a half has been a true battle. Our community, Evanston, has not been completely oblivious to this struggle. Many performative action steps were taken including protests and the painting of “Black Lives Matter” on the streets. The majority of these thoughtful efforts, however, were done by students. With the lack of officials choosing to join the fight for equity, these efforts fell off, resulting in the lack of systemic changes.
These events led to the start of the ETHS Black Student Union, a student-led group that is focused on being a safe space for black students and strives to make ETHS a safer space for its black students. While the brutality of the pandemic towards people of color as well as the brutality at the hands of the police prompted the congregation of the Black Student Union at ETHS, we continue to work on making prevalent issues more bearable for people of color. For the 2020-21 school year, the club met exclusively virtually, but we get to meet in person this year and make the most of the union.
This year in the BSU, we will have counselors come in and discuss post-high school planning. We will have Black professionals from the Evanston community come in and discuss their path to success. We will have opportunities to discuss with ETHS officials our ideas to make the school a better place for its Black students. We will have mentoring opportunities, we will have job opportunities, we will have opportunities to get in touch with admissions officers of different colleges and universities and we will of course have pizza and snacks! Moving from the virtual environment, we are ecstatic to begin making real change in not only our community but in the lives of Black students.
The last 18 months have been different for everyone. For some, it has been plagued with illness, sadness and disappointment while for others it was a unique opportunity for growth and joy. This pandemic has affected everyone in different ways, but accepting the despair with the happiness, the shortcomings with the growth, and moving forward to make the most of our lives now is crucial.