Divina Wembi also contributed to this article.
All photos taken by Hadjar Yousfi.
With such a diverse student body, it is no surprise that Malden High School has different organizations dedicated to people of different backgrounds, such as the Black Student Union (BSU) of MHS.
Advised by biology teacher Michel-Le Meranda, the club has started strong this year with its first meeting on November 30th, 2022, although the idea to start this club was first thought up a year earlier by junior student Meklit Abel.
The club was originally started to “create a safe space for Black students in Malden High to talk about issues that are usually stigmatized and looked down upon,” as Abel explained.
The process of starting the union proved to be quite difficult for Abel, as she wanted to make sure that it turned out as amazing as possible. “I didn't know enough about what I wanted to do at the moment so it took me a while to answer back," she stated. "I did some more research and deep diving over the summer and got into contact with many other schools that also have this union up and going in their schools. This helped me better understand what I wanted for the club and helped me start the union last week, which was November 30th—our first intro meeting!”
Left to right: BSU Advisor Michel-Le Meranda and President Meklit Abel; BSU members Erikah Macharia and Victoria Gammon at the first BSU meeting of the year.
The main message of the union, in Abel’s opinion, is to hopefully encourage the members to “talk about issues that they face in school every day or even around the world.” Treasurer of the club Dina Genene feels as though the Union wanted to “convey the idea that anyone can speak out against injustice despite what they may have been told, whether or not they are a minority.”
Abel is confident in the importance of this club to Malden High School, she feels that it is especially important to “display the efforts of the black community and how much of an impact we have in this school and the world.”
Secretary Qai Hinds has her own goals when it comes to the club. She deeply hoped that “by the time I graduate, the Black Student Union has accomplished creating a safe community for Black-identifying students in a public school system that doesn't serve them.”
“I want every Black-identifying student here at Malden High to know that this space is created for you, to support and empower you, and for us to unapologetically be ourselves,” Hinds emphasized.
“I would personally like to see the union be able to break down issues surrounding Black students within our school so we can find solutions to work towards getting rid of them. I feel like this will greatly help create a more comfortable environment for the Black student population here at MHS,” Erikah Macharia, a member of the Union, explained with passion.
Left to right: BSU members Thora Henry and Qai Hinds at the first meeting; BSU members (L to R) Darius Blaise, Makhial Coulanges-Blaise, Makeila Scott, and Damien Josaphat.
Spreading the word of the Union and reaching as many people as possible seemed to be a common goal among the officers. Genene felt the same way saying that she would “like to see the union accomplish gaining as many members as possible and be able to address all of the issues that people may be struggling with.”
Having more people in the club leads to more discussions that bring people together. When there are more members it opens a gateway for other races to hear out black students and hear their stories. Another goal that Genene has is to “provide information about injustices that happened within the past and find ways to educate” on how to take the injustices.
Macharia loved the idea of this Union being started at MHS, so she jumped at the opportunity to join. "I wanted to join the union as I knew it would be a safe space for Black students to come together and discuss important topics that pertain to us. I’ve seen and heard of other Black Student Unions on social media and from friends, so I knew it would be the right choice to join," Macharia explained.
What made Genene join the club was that she wanted to see others at school be “passionately vocal” about what they believed in, as well as being a part of these experiences... This is the same reason that Genene encourages others to join the Union. Genene wants her fellow black students to know that the BSU is a “safe haven” that brings any topics to the table and allows you to “get things off your chest.”
Abel wanted to make sure that students of black backgrounds could be more confident, and could help to “display the efforts of the black community and how much of an impact we have in this school and the world.”
Lindsay Bordenave is the social media coordinator for the Union. She would like to see the club “gain members and possibly hold events out of school.” This would be a way for non-black students “they could see a point of view of where black people come from when they are treated differently from other people.”
Bordenave wanted to be a part of the club when Abel told her about her plans. She wants everyone to know that “anyone can join the club, not just Black people.” Lindsay hopes that they can help people see that “Black people are just the same as non-Black people and that if we actually put aside our differences we are all very alike.” Once people are able to come to this conclusion progress can be made.
As a member, Macharia hopes that “more students know that this club is a great place to be if they’re looking for more students who look like them and that they can relate to. Also if they feel like they need a place to be able to freely speak their mind on issues or topics about race, this is the perfect place to do so as it is such a comfortable and supportive environment.”
Left to right: Students gathered for the first BSU Meeting of the year; The BSU officers (L to R) Qai Hinds, Lindsay Bordenave, Michel-Le Meranda, Meklit Abel, Dina Genene, and Orit Abel.
Needless to say, all the club members want black students to be aware of their impact whether that is at school or somewhere in the world. For them to have a place where they can talk about issues that matter to them, without having to look over their shoulder and feel judged. Hinds especially encourages all Black students to remember that “melanin is a blessing and that we are all here for each other.”