The Wake-up Call For Change

After racial incidents, the Board of Education’s Racism, Equity, and Diversity Committee decided to take initiative to make a change.

Gabrielle Hughes, S1 Journalism Student

It was 1:00 p.m. on September 11th, 2020. Hunterdon Central was holding a zoom meeting as an introduction to the new school year, but something was wrong: the chat was accidentally left on. Before the staff members holding the meeting could do anything, a student under an anonymous name had spammed racial slurs. That was it–that was the last straw.

Racism is an epidemic that separates mankind. It divides the human race all over the world. And in the midst of growing fear for equality in America, Hunterdon Central is putting large efforts into stopping racism, bigotry, and discrimination in our community. 

In September, Hunterdon Central’s Board of Education Racism, Equity, and Diversity Committee approved a new club: the Black Student Union. 

The Black Student Union is a safe space for students and staff to discuss and help combat racial injustice. This club is advised by Gayle Brown, a Family and Consumer Science teacher. 

The meetings are open to anybody who wishes to learn more about racial injustice. The Black Student Union’s purpose is to create a safer community, provide insight into the racial issues faced in Hunterdon Central, and empower students and staff members. 

Jordan Caldwell, a senior and a member of the Black Student Union, believes that the club will create a voice for everyone in this school who is under the impression that they don’t have one. “As a black student, we are the faces and voices for all marginalized students in the school,” she said. 

Caldwell believes that the community and students as a whole should be more educated about racism and discrimination. She wants to create change and diversity through the Black Student Union. “I definitely see [the club] being beneficial due to the fact that it can spark diversity,” she said. 

Dean of Students Edward Brandt, also feels that the Black Student Union will be beneficial to students and staff members. He thinks the club will give a sense of equality and comfort to the school as a whole. 

Along with the Black Student Union, the school is doing much more to fight racism and discrimination. Moving forward, teachers and staff members will receive professional development regarding racism and how to address it. There will also be more opportunities for students to have workshops regarding racism. 

 In addition to these new changes, more clubs are being formed. The Latinx Alliance club was formed this year and so was an Asian Alliance club. These are just some of the large efforts being put into stopping racism at Hunterdon Central.

Brandt strongly believes and preaches that racism at Central should not and will not be accepted. “I think it’s important that we make statements that any form of racism is not wanted here and is not welcome here. Everybody is welcome here but racism itself is not,” he said.

How is racism at Hunterdon Central viewed from a student’s perspective, though?

Alyssa Hicks, a freshman and student of color, thinks the school is not putting enough effort into stopping racism. “I feel like they’re not doing enough,” she said. Hicks is in favor of the Black Student Union and likes the idea. However, she presumes there is more that could be done by the staff members at Central. 

From her point of view, Hicks sees racism at Central as more of an issue than it is at other schools in New Jersey. “I feel like racism is worse at Central,” she said. 

Like Hicks, Caldwell wants more students from Hunterdon Central to gain a better understanding of the effects of racism and discrimination. She thinks there needs to be more effort from staff members put into educating her classmates about racial injustice. “I do believe students as a whole should be more educated,” she said. 

As an African American student, Caldwell wants to hear and learn more about people of color at Hunterdon Central. She visibly wants to see a difference in the stigma against people of color at the school. 

With the Black Student Union and recent changes at Hunterdon Central, Brandt truly believes that these changes will be seen. He believes that the new club will bring light to the discrimination and help combat it. He also thinks this club will further educate more students and staff at the school. 

Brandt has even already seen changes in students’ enthusiasm to participate in the fight against racism. “I think it’s too soon yet to see what impacts were resulted. But I can say, the energy to join any work to fight against racism has been great,” he said. 

The staff members at Hunterdon Central want to bring more awareness to this subject. More specifically, Brandt wants community members and students to feel comfortable enough to speak up and stand up against racism. 

Caldwell, Brandt, and Hicks are all excited to see the benefits of the Black Student Union and what it will do for Hunterdon Central. Their excitement is among the many others who are waiting to see what this new club will bring.