Following the death of George Floyd, a large movement known as Black Lives Matter began to vocalize the mistreatments of minorities throughout the nation. As a result, a combination of peaceful protests and riots were seen in nearly every community across the country, including in Loudoun County.
African Americans have dealt with racial inequality within the United States for hundreds of years, forcing them to fight for their rights and lives on a daily basis. While there has been much progress in bringing equality to these minorities since the Civil Rights movement, the everyday fears and struggles that people of color experience have not been completely decimated. The Black Lives Matter movement has exposed these issues to people who are not everyday targets of discrimination. Recognizing one’s privilege can be viewed as a tool to help better understand the hardships that African Americans and other minority groups encounter.
On June 3rd, Round Hill hosted an event where a candle vigil was held at one of the town parks, with more than 400 local residents attending. The event began with a moment of silence that lasted for eight minutes, the same amount of time George Floyd was pinned on his neck by a police officer, resulting in his death. Following the moment of silence, the floor was open for anyone to speak on the Black Lives Matter movement. Woodgrove’s Sophomore student President, Spencer Wilson took advantage of the opportunity.
He explained why he wanted to attend the event by saying, “I originally went just to support, but after hearing everyone else’s stories, I felt moved to say something.”
Additionally, on June 7th, more than 1,000 residents marched the streets of Purcellville, demanding peace and justice within the community. At the event, sixteen-year-old student representative for the NAACP, Payton Arnett, gave a powerful speech encouraging her peers and local residents to use their voice and insist on change for racial equality.
“If no one speaks up, nothing is going to change, so we all need to be working so that the next generation does not feel the same way I, and the majority of African American youth, feel right now,” says Arnett.
Apart from pushing towards major social reform throughout the country, the BLM movement encourages the acknowledgement of how life is seen through the eyes of a person of color compared to that of a white/white passing individual.
“There are certain things my parents have had to teach me that most other sixteen-year-olds would not have to consider. When I walk into a store with a group of friends and they are acting, well, like teenagers, I start to seperate myself from the group. This is because I have a different level of standards that I have to maintain to stay safe and make it home to my parents at night,” says Arnett.
With hopes to create a more inclusive environment for students to share and educate others on what minorities endure in today’s society, Arnett and Woodgrove High School junior, Gabby Stewart, have introduced the “Minority Student Union” club at their school. The club description on the school website says, “We want to create a space where not only minority students can share their experiences and network with each other, but a place where we can educate others at Woodgrove to promote a more socially conscious school.” Providing an outlet for students to connect on their interests and have their voices be heard, the Minority Student Union is only the beginning to raising awareness on racial injustice within our community.
If you wish to join this club the link to sign-up will be provided below: