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Being Heard

Feb 17
hawa's picture

Students Make Change

Editor's note: Last week, a group of students went before the Burlington (VT) School Board to ask that they be allowed to fly the Black Lives Matter flag. The School Board voted to honor their request. At 1 p.m. on Monday Feb. 19, the flag will be flown and BHS will join Montpelier High School in this action to raise awareness on the importance of studlents of color. Here is the statement that was presented, written by: Hawa Adam and Balkisa Omar, both members of Muslim Girls Making Change, Eliza Abedi, Binti Malawia, Eli Pine, & the Burlington High School Social Justice Union, including Alexandra Contreras Montesano, Thabitha Moruthane, Nataleigh Noble, Zanevia Wilcox, Sylvia Glosson and Elizabeth Conville.

The Social Justice Union feels strongly that Burlington High School (BHS) should stand in solidarity with Montpelier High School in the raising of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) flag. People of color makeup 35.4% of the Burlington School District (BSD) and we want to be recognized. Flying the BLM flag not only recognizes students of color, but it also creates a welcoming ethos and helps to bridge Burlington communities together.

Black students make up 14.6% of the district, yet their suspension rate is 30.6% (Equity​ ​and​ ​Inclusion​ ​Data​ ​Report, 2016-2017). This disparity is evidence that BSD needs to better support our students of color, and this is an opportunity that would lead the district in the right direction. By flying the flag the district would validate the difficult barriers and the hostility that students of color and their allies experience in the District.

There are common misconceptions of what the BLM movement stands for. It aims to eliminate racial profiling, excessive use of force against people of color, and racial bias in the criminal justice system. In American society, black lives have not been as protected, respected,or valued as white lives, hence the need for such a movement. It’s critical in today’s learning environments that students of color not only feel protected, but promoted as a group that needs added support.

We understand that an action like flying the BLM flag may draw local, state, and/or national attention. We know that Montpelier High School has experienced some backlash, yet the majority of feedback was in the form of overwhelming support. From observing online and through in-person conversations for weeks, we have every reason to believe that the broader community of BHS and Burlington support raising the flag. There is no reason for caution due to the risk of pushback, in fact, there is only reason to stand up and support people of color in our community.

As a state, Vermont has a rich history of supporting civil rights. We were the first state to outlaw  slavery and the first to approve gay marriage through legislation. While this makes us proud, we must do more to fight systemic and person-to-person racism. By raising the flag, the district will continue the long tradition of supporting civil rights while also creating momentum for to further our efforts in combating racism.

Flying the BLM flag would be an excellent opportunity to address the notion of Vermont Exceptionalism. Though Vermont is a progressive state, many black Vermonters express that living in Vermont is, in some ways, more difficult than living in the racist South. By being among the whitest states in the country, we have an obligation to further the well-being of our brothers and sisters of color so that their skin color is no longer a predictor of social,  economic, academic and health outcomes.
By raising the BLM Flag, we are asking the board to support all of its students. This is an opportunity  for the Burlington community to unite to show where our moral compass points: toward progress.

We propose the flag to be flown throughout the rest of the 2017-2018 academic year. We also propose returning to the Board in April to discuss flying this flag annually for the entire month of February after doing an assessment of the consequences that the flag brings.

We have provided the statements of seven students who urge the flag to be flown. We also have included a petition from high school students and staff in support of this action.

The statements are below:

Writes Day Gems

Feb 15

I Am The One

I am the one you picked apart in grade school because my skin held too much sunshine,
my name twisting around your tongue until you chopped it off at the ends, slashed

at it until it fell in with the the others, slipped on denim and pink converse, toed the line
that you drew on the playground, what are you, where

are you from, no where are you really from, awkward silence filled with the hum of cultural
Feb 15
H20.hollym's picture

let go

perfectionist
editing deleting restraining
i am tired of caging myself in
behind a glass dam
measuring what to let out
and what to keep in.
the water i hold is too good
for that and i know it
but i dont deem the words that pour
out of me good enough.
i dont deem myself good enough.
and so here i am.
little did you know that
this was an act of bravery
an act of courage.
i am making no edits to
the person inside
Feb 15

I Am The One

I am the one you picked apart in grade school because my skin held too much sunshine,
my name twisting around your tongue until you chopped it off at the ends, slashed

at it until it fell in with the the others, slipped on denim and pink converse, toed the line
that you drew on the playground, what are you, where

are you from, no where are you really from, awkward silence filled with the hum of cultural
Feb 15

I am the one with a dream ...

I am the one who loves the outdoors, country music, four-wheeling, hunting, and singing. One of my dreams is to meet Kane Brown in person so I have one memory I will never forget in life.
Feb 15

Snapshots of #vtwritesday

Rich Boyers' 7th-8th grade class at Edmunds Middle School, Burlington, #vtwritesday18(Photos by Shannon Ripp and Susan Reid, YWP) And Miller Library at Camels Hump Middle School in Richmond.

 
 
Feb 15

Power of Commenting

Here's a piece we liked on Vermont Writes Day, and the encouraging comment one writer gave:

Seen, Not Heard.

Submitted by Writer on Thu, 02/15/2018 - 10:52

Burlington-area H.S. Students Sign UP NOW!

Feb 14

High School Credit Course

A high school credit course for students in Greater Burlington, VT: Storytelling. March 5 - April 18, Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. ALL WELCOME. FREE.

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Weekly Challenges

Feb 16

Footprints

You see a set of mysterious footprints leading from the woods behind your house and down your street. You follow them. What happens?

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Grace Safford]
 

Weekly Challenges

Feb 16

Puns

Make a list of words that could be turned into puns (words with several meanings or words that sound similar but have different meanings.) For instance, ‘olive’ becomes ‘all of,’ or ‘I love.’ Have fun with it. Put your best puns together in a poem. 

[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Shannon Ripp] 

 
Feb 16

Photo 6 - Recurring

A character keeps seeing this image in their dreams. Why? Does this place exist somewhere? Does it have special meaning to this character? Does your character have to go and find it? What happens? 
[YWP Photo Library; Photo by Harlie Johnson]

 
Jan 26

Call for Writers! Deadline Feb. 23

This just in from YWP's pals, Jim Ellefson (poet extraordinaire) and Lesley Wright -- organizers of the Champlain College Young Writers' Conference:
 
Dear High-Stepping Daughters and Sons of the Word Road,