Abington Students Speak Up for Equality

High school students embark on making change

Aiyana+Mathis%2C+with+permission

Aiyana Mathis, with permission

Amaya Turner, Staff Writer

Reaction to the murder of George Floyd swept the country as people called for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. Many expressed their grief and outrage by holding protests, posting to social media, and engaging in conversations about how to move forward after another loss of a life.

A group protesting right now are students, both college and high school alike. They are calling for change. Abington students are no exception. Some students that have been vocal in the last week include current freshman Jada Bryant and junior Aiyana Mathis.

On Friday, June 5, Mr. Jason Scott, head of the Abington History Department, held a virtual Town Hall Meeting to discuss race and the events related to it. Bryant participated as an audience member and brought up some important topics to the discussion, like the need for a more diverse curriculum.

“There can be many changes made in the classroom; starting off with normalizing conversations about racism, bias, and prejudices. From my experience in the classroom, I’ve noticed that a lot of the conversations about slavery and segregation could become very uncomfortable for the students and even sometimes the teachers. This shouldn’t be. In order for students to be able to learn about these sorts of things, they need to be aware of their surroundings and understand racism is a constant thing in our world right now,” Bryant said.

Pullquote Photo

Our differences shouldn’t define us or matter in relations with other people.”

— Aiyana Matthis

Bryant added that what students learn in the classroom tends to be Euro-centric and disregards other cultures. “I would want to see our educators talk less about European history and more about what the African Americans have built, invented, advocated, protested, and fought for. Slavery went on for over 400 years and I hear one or two chapters about African-American history in class.

According to the Enrollment Data on the Massachusetts Department of Education website, the 2019-2020 enrollment rate by race/ethnicity at Abington High School is 82% white. African American is 4.7%, Asian 2.9%, Hispanic 9.1%, and Multi-Race, Non-Hispanic is 1.3%. “The black population in Abington is a very small percentage. So it makes it easier for the Caucasian educators to focus on Caucasian history. There needs to be a change,” Bryant said.

When asked about how she envisions herself in the steps to make change, Bryant said, “I hope I make a huge impact on not only the educators of Abington, but also the parents and the students, my peers. It’s important for our youth to be aware of what’s happening today. In order to make change you have to know what came before that change and that all starts in the classroom.”

While Bryant spoke out about what can be done in the classroom, junior Aiyana Mathis worked outside the classroom to create the nonprofit organization America’s Minority.

America’s Minority, which is mostly managed using Instagram, was created for people to share their stories and experiences about inequality, or to read about other people’s experiences.

“Due to corona [Covid-19 pandemic], many people aren’t always able to protest. We started with a social media platform so people can use their voice from the comforts of their own home. Our mission statement is to spread positivity and acceptance for minorities. Especially now, in this time, America needs to use their voices. This is a way to do [it] in a safe way and environment,” said Mathis.

Mathis said that the organization America’s Minority was inspired by her and other students who also run it. Mathis is the official founder, but she collaborates with her fellow peers and co-founders juniors Joanny Rosa Goncalves, Natalie Hain Lomba, and Sabrinna Medeiros.

When asked who Matthis hopes to reach with America’s Minority and what impact she hopes it has on Abington, she said, “We hope to reach everyone. We are open to all ages, races, sexualities, and more. There are not many people of different races or sexualities in Abington. So everyone may not understand or empathize. Our founders felt like there needed to be a change in our environment. [Especially] As Abington grows rapidly with diversity these last few years. We shouldn’t have to feel different. We should all be accepted. Our differences shouldn’t define us or matter in relations with other people. But we should still be respected and treated equally.”

America’s Minority has received a lot of support. Mathis said they will keep pushing forward and giving minorities a voice. Their mission statement is, “For those who need their voices heard, we are here to listen.” Their organization hopes to lend itself to the showing of activism we are beginning to see in Abington.

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