Black Student Union’s Impact at Malden High School

For the past two years, the Black Student Union Club (BSU) at Malden High School has provided a safe environment to ensure that Black students are able to a safe environment to voice their opinions. This can include an array of issues that are not unique to Black students at MHS but around the world. At every meeting held monthly in the classroom of biology teacher and club advisor Michel-Le Miranda, students are immediately met with dimmed fairy lights and occasional light snacks in an effort to provide a comforting physical environment rather than a nerve-racking environment for those who are participating and sharing their big opinions on serious matters. 

The club's council consists of senior President Meklit Abel, sophomore Vice President Orit Abel, senior Treasurer Dina Genene, senior Secretary Damien Josaphat, and freshman Social Media Coordinator Venusia Teklu. 

With an overwhelming majority of the council members being seniors set to graduate in less than two months, that leaves many questions about the future fate of the club. However, in fear of inconsistency, vice president Orit Abel stated that next year's leadership is “going to be happening through a vote. Whoever wants to run for the position can, and the club members will vote on it. Just because the seniors, the founders of BSU, are leaving, doesn’t mean that BSU will leave.”

As the clock continues to tick for the senior council and members, they hope to “leave on a high note, ensuring that each role has been filled with people we trust to continue running it and will [hopefully] address the need for more BSU-run events,” addressed vice president Genene. 

From left to right: The BSU officers and club advisors Michel-Le Meranda, Meklit Abel, Dina Genene, and Orit Abel. HADJAR YOUSFI. Photo from archives.

Many of the different topics that are discussed during the meetings stem from discussions that are commonly found on social media. Some of these topics are racism within the education system, the impact of Black culture on today's society, Black fetishization, the usage of racial slurs, and the history of African Americans. 

Although these are perfectly valid topics, they often are considered “controversial” in the media due to much stigma. BSU being a non-stigmatized environment, however, allowed students to share their raw experiences and opinions on any said topic and learn and realize their environment. “BSU has made me realize the effect slavery has had on the black diaspora as well as how it still divides black ethnic groups to this day,” stated sophomore Nour Howard, who further emphasized how she encouraged every Black student—in fact, any student who is interested in learning more about Black issues and how they tie back to the Malden  community—to join BSU as “it’s one of the best activities that I’ve joined this year.” 

BSU members Erikah Macharia and Victoria Gammon at the first BSU meeting of the year. HADJAR YOUSFI. Photo from archives. 

Although the purpose of BSU is to collectively gain intel on others' experiences and come up with solutions to prevent that from occurring in the community, many members emphasized how the discussion held at the meetings allowed them to realize a lot about themselves and how they have experienced uncomfortable situations but due to the frequency of them, they seemed to be normal occurrences. 

“I joined because the topics were interesting and made me realize a lot about myself and my experiences and how much I let slide in the past…specifically with people who used consider stuff as too ‘black’ or too ‘whitewashed’ not realizing how much it can affect someone,” expressed sophomore Alecia Louigene, who further explained that although she does not face these challenges as much anymore, BSU has shaped her in a way where she would be able to defend herself if it were to happen again. 

Overall, BSU has become a haven for Black students as well as any student interested in learning more about issues within and towards the Black community. As the club continues to thrive they continue to educate each other on many complex topics in a healthy way, slowly but surely healing generational traumas and stigmas. 

For more updates regarding BSU and their upcoming meetings, feel free to follow their Instagram @bsu.malden or contact any of the officers if you have any questions or concerns. 

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