Change makers fight injustice and racism in the age of COVID-19

Photos+taken+at+a+protest+attended+by+Webb+students+in+Downtown+Los+Angeles.+

Hunter Lange ('22)

Photos taken at a protest attended by Webb students in Downtown Los Angeles.

Webb, a community full of change makers, embodies and celebrates diversity: back in January, before the outbreak of COVID-19, Rosetta Lee spent a couple of days sharing her wisdom on diversity and how to initiate courageous conversations. A few days later, the community gathered at the crossroads in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, with students and faculty members speaking publicly to celebrate the spirits of Dr. King. Building off of these lessons, today, as the country witnessed injustices against the Black community, members from Webb sought to carry on the lessons to embrace open conversations and change-provoking actions in support of diversity and inclusion.

“As a primarily boarding community,” said Lily Chiu (‘21), “Webb must do better at dismantling institutionalized racism, beginning with the language and dialogue being used on campus.”

After George Floyd’s brutal murder at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25th, 2020, the Blacks Lives Matter (BLM) movement has garnered the worlds’s attention. The Black Lives Matter movement was initially founded in 2013, following the acquittal of a man who killed Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American from Miami Gardens, Florida. 

Since then, the movement has spread worldwide: activists have shifted the protests from Minnesota to the streets in cities all over the world, including Los Angeles, Paris, and London. 

However, in this newest wave of the BLM movement, students are taking a more crucial role. Firmly believing in racial justice and equality, many teens, includingWebb students, voiced these beliefs through planning protests or propagating resources and information on social media platforms.

“Social media is a great way to start,” said Lily. “ Information and awareness gets spread really quickly so as a student, my voice is heard by a lot of people relatively quickly.”

The Webb community has shown continued support for diversity on campus and creating safe spaces for all students since May. From student-initiated Zoom conversations to address concerns and initiate actions, Google documents with helpful resources and specific steps to move forward, to emails from different academic departments with Fawcett Library resources, members of Webb have provided each other with ways to inform themselves and take actions, giving each other the courage to find hope during a stressful and special time.

“I am taking this time to educate myself on things [that] I am not as familiar with,” said Aliza Tyndale (‘21). “So when the time comes, I will be ready to be an ally or speak on the subject. I think for students who want to be a part of the change happening , it’s important to just keep learning and asking questions and taking in as much information as possible! Students who want to continue to support diversity and inclusion should get involved in conversation, find spaces within the community… and find something you’d like to change or help better and keep at it because they will listen.”

Getting informed is a helpful and powerful first start for many. In order to confidently make an argument, some students first choose to start from fact-based conversations to address disagreement.

“To inform people who don’t agree, I try to bring historical evidence and create empathy,” said Lily. “Advocating for marginalized groups and focusing on acknowledging your own complicit role in oppressive systems is a strong way to directly impact your community.”

Besides education, many Webb students have dedicated their time to taking direct action, changing passive activism to an active version. With actions ranging from making stickers and shirts for the Black Lives Matter movement, going on protests, creating an Instagram account to recommend related literature, making infographics, and so on, many Webb students have taken the lead as powerful change makers in our generation.

Even though students cannot connect with each other physically, online spaces have become an alternative. Club meetings at Webb went virtual, as leaders of Empowering Student Voices Initiative held an online zoom conversation in June that was open to all students who wanted to talk. 

“As a student I inform others about diversity and anti-racism through the club ESVI,” said Aliza. “[It is a club] for students on campus to have a safe space to talk and learn about pressing topics such as diversity within the community, anti-racism, ally ship, inclusion, the 8 core cultural identifiers and much more.”

With the pandemic still thwarting in-person interactions, students have identified the summer as a great time to start and continue actions to get ready for future collaborative efforts.

“With summer break and online learning happening, naturally these efforts will look different once quarantine ends,” said Lily. “To really change the dynamic/dialogue of our community, we must start by having more difficult conversations about privilege and diversity. It’s about normalizing these topics and leaning into the discomfort.”

As summer break progresses, students can find time to incorporate diversity conversations in their schedules, whether from reading about diversity through literature, promoting diversity through taking specific actions, or so much more.

Seeing injustice outside of the Webb community, students have already started to “think boldly, creatively, and mindfully” for solutions, “act with honor and moral courage” by taking specific actions, “lead with distinction” through accumulating momentum, and “serve with a generous spirit” by supporting an antiracist cause. Of course, the actions are just the start of this new beginning, and powerful change makers will continue to use what they have learned from the Webb community to serve the larger one.