School and city leaders this week are promising changes and new programming in response to an online campaign to spread awareness of racial bias at the prestigious exam school.
Students there last week launched an effort to get their peers to describe experiences of slights, slurs and casual racism among classmates and teachers.
Organizers Kylie Webster-Cazeau and Meggie Noel of the on-campus group BLS BLACK (Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge) invited users to share their thoughts using the hashtag #BlackatBLS. They launched the campaign with a YouTube video posted Jan. 18, which by Tuesday had been viewed nearly 14,000 times.
The campaign attracted dozens of responses and quickly reached BLS alumni, city officials and other supporters not affiliated with the school.
RELATED: Tweets flowing in for #BlackatBLS
Some tweeted about racist remarks from teachers, being confused with other students of color, or hearing racially charged language from peers.
The #BlackatBLS’ momentum has been building.
On Thursday, Boston Public Schools announced it was investigating the claims students made online.
Then Tommy Chang, the freshman superintendent for Boston Public Schools, met with students on Monday – many in the school had pledged to dress in all black on that day as a sign of solidarity.
“I applaud them for raising their concerns over racial issues at their school and for sparking a citywide dialogue about diversity, inclusion and equity,” Chang said in a statement, as reported by the Boston Globe.
In a memo, also on Monday, BLS Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta laid out six steps the school will take “immediately.”
- Foster dialogue and “provide a safe place for students to raise concerns.”
- Help students interested in social justice issue campaigns
- “Strengthen professional learning” on diversity issues
- Raise awareness of how students can report incidents
- “Include space for critical dialogue on issues of race” in students’ education
- Support a student-led “teach-in” for other students
“This is an important movement in the continued evolution of Boston Latin School,” Teta wrote in the memo, adding, “Thank you for your partnership as we continue to develop a more culturally competent and inclusive school for all.”
Mayor Marty Walsh told the Globe he planned to meet with Boston Latin students as well.
“The experiences that our kids have in our schools shouldn’t be racism,” Walsh told the newspaper. “The experiences should be positive, and we want to build a system that is positive.”