Walking Out for Justice

On January 9th, 2020, Rocklin High School's Black Student Union organized a walkout to call for unity against racism on campus.

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Walking Out for Justice

Black Student Union leader Kamari Brown speaks to crowd during a walkout.  Captured by Riley Williams-West

Black Student Union leader Kamari Brown speaks to crowd during a walkout. Captured by Riley Williams-West

Black Student Union leader Kamari Brown speaks to crowd during a walkout. Captured by Riley Williams-West

Black Student Union leader Kamari Brown speaks to crowd during a walkout. Captured by Riley Williams-West

Chloe Entrican, Jadyn Boyce

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Error Fixed: Jasmine Harrison corrected to Jasmine Harris

On Thursday, January 9th, 2020, Rachel Jackson, the president of the Black Student Union (BSU) at Rocklin High, along with other members of BSU staged a walkout to raise awareness about the recent racially-biased, viral social media post from a Rocklin High student. The BSU members who walked out were joined by Rocklin High students who shared their concerns. 

“I believe it is important that you all recognize why we are here right now. This is not a protest but rather an awareness walkout,” explained Rachel. “We are trying to raise awareness on the amount of unity we really have here on [the] Rocklin High campus. Our goal today and our message right now is not in response to the racist and derogatory language that has been outputted lately in the media but rather looking at the circumstances that surrounded it.”

Jackson continued by highlighting a desire by many members of BSU for unity on racial issues. “It took a video with thousands of views to get our students talking about racial issues here on campus. And the thing is, these sorts of issues happen on a regular basis here. And it doesn’t really adequately represent what the school wants in unity. And it starts here with us. It starts here on how we respond to it. So we need to come together not to fight a post but to fight this idea of separation that we have.”

Rachel’s speech acknowledged that many students don’t know much about each other’s lives. “Right now, I personally don’t know a lot of you guys, so I am really grateful that you guys are here to support this, but it is more than just this. We have to look around and see the people who we don’t really talk to on a daily basis because we don’t really welcome them into our social groups. We need to start closing in those gaps, meeting that one kid who is always quiet in class, you don’t know their name, but you know they’re there. We need to start closing those gaps and starting to actually be united,” said Rachel.

The mood of the speech seemed to be one of searching for answers rather than casting blame. “I am not here to point fingers or criticize admin[istration], staff, or teachers, or the parents because they all have put more effort into trying to make this campus more involved, and more inclusive,” said Rachel. “The thing is, I don’t know how else to address this, but we have to do something for ourselves. Nothing is going to change until we make that change. It is one thing to say things with words, but it is more so in showing with the way we interact with other people around us.”

Rachel was frank about her own feelings of isolation at Rocklin High School. “There have been times when I personally haven’t felt welcomed here. And it is not because people don’t like me, but it is because I feel like I can’t fit in, I can’t relate, or because I don’t feel accepted into these groups. So growing our amount of consciousness that we have for the people around us is what is going to make out campus better. That is why we are here today.” 

This message wasn’t just conveyed through the words of Black Student Union leaders, but also other students who were affected by the events taking place on campus and social media platforms. Jasmine Harris, a junior here at Rocklin High School has strong feelings about the walkout and what it represented. “I’m here to peacefully protest the injustice that the minorities here endure because a lot of people don’t know about the disgusting ways we have been treated. We won’t be oppressed. I know some people didn’t show up because they thought it was stupid and some people didn’t show up because they didn’t believe in it. Well, I personally believe that there is an advantage in diversity and not in a mono-society where everyone is the same.”

Jasmine agreed that the walkout was motivated by a desire for raising awareness and not casting blame, “We don’t want to fight with anyone, we’re not here to put any other culture or any other race down, but we are here to stand united to make a change in this community because there needs to be a change.” 

Jasmine also felt similar concerns of feeling disconnected and different when she comes to school, “I will personally admit that I come to school every day feeling like I don’t belong on this campus. It is hard, it is very hard for me to feel like I have a niche to fit into and that I’m not discriminated against. It’s very hard to feel like people will listen to me because I am a black woman. I’m probably one of the most offensive things that’s around that could offend people.”

Jasmine’s hope is that increasing awareness will bring change in how she feels when she comes to school, “Personally, when I step on this campus I do feel a sense of fear, and I don’t think that Caucasian kids have to deal with their parents hugging them tightly before school saying, you know, ‘I hope I see you later today.’”