One of High School North’s newest and most socially impactful groups is the HSN Shades Club. The group was founded this past spring, as ongoing protests about police brutality and calls for racial equality saw a major uptick in media coverage with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. As a branch of the Black Student Union (or BSU), the mission statement of Shades is as follows: “Shades is a student club formed to give a diverse group of students a voice to advocate for students of color and bring awareness to the controversial issues that center around racial disparities. This club aims to inspire, educate, and encourage while promoting cultural diversity and peaceful coexistence within our community.”
In a country where racism remains a grim reality, Shades works to empower African-American students and acknowledge their peers’ perspectives and problems while creating a safe space for conversation regarding race education and how it affects the lives of younger generations. “In my club, I am most proud of the fact that we allow anyone to speak during meetings and have open conversation about whatever issues they might have,” remarked Shades Club Secretary Taylor Alphonso. “We get to talk about a variety of topics that students never hear about in their classrooms and possibly at home, so it is a great space to challenge everyone’s thinking and give them the freedom to express any experiences or emotions they have had or are having.”
With the polarizing rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, racism has become mainstream news in America in the past six months. “Black Lives Matter just means black lives matter just as much as any other race or group of people. We are not saying that we are better, but we matter too,” said Shades Officer Miles Stokes to people hesitant to support the movement. Indeed, understanding that Black Lives Matter isn’t about supremacy but equality and inclusivity is the key to understanding the movement as a whole. Supremacy is what the movement is fighting, not what it supports.
With the goals of education and reformation in mind, Shades has already begun to educate both inside and outside of High School North. The club is planning a series of discussions with middle school students at Grover and Community to broaden their audience across the district. Helping younger kids understand the complexities of racial inequality and how to combat its consequences is a crucial step in the process of eliminating racism, and Shades is taking that step.
Since the club was formed through virtual communications over the summer, the ongoing coronavirus epidemic has made it so that Shades members have yet to meet in person, and decreased the level of consistent attendance from underclassmen in particular. However, the digital format has increased their audience via Zoom and has allowed members to work on getting comfortable speaking to large groups with varying viewpoints. The group is looking forward to meeting in person and discussing these important subjects in the future. “I am extremely proud of each member of the Shades executive team. They work hard to create and present thought-provoking information regularly while juggling school,” Shades Faculty Advisor Rosalyn Washington remarked “I am very thankful that they have allowed me to lead them and look forward to doing so in the years to come.”
Interested in joining Shades at High School North? Check out their Instagram here.