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Queens Students Protest Acts of Racism Through Silent Protest


January 15, 2023

By Fabiha Khanam

NEW YORK—To acknowledge acts of racial violence at Bard High School Early College Queens, the Black Student Union at BHSECQ organized a silent protest during the 5th period on November 14, 2022. Students were given the space to talk about what that event meant for their community. Superintendent Hoa Tu, who was also in the building at the time of the protest, was able to listen to the concerns of students.

In early November, a student at Bard High School Early College in Queens (BHSECQ) organized a physical and verbal attack after school against black LGTBQ+ students. The student who led the attack was reported to be very aggressive and hateful towards minority communities, specifically black LGBTQ+ students. Many BHSECQ students said they were hurt and traumatized after the event.

Isabella Juma, a student at Bard, said, “When I heard about [the attack], I was shocked. For this kid to feel comfortable enough to commit violence, makes it seem as though the school nurtured him to do this. The administration handled it very poorly.”

After the attack took place, the school called for an online Town Hall meeting to answer questions posed by students related to the attack. In the meeting, the administration referred to the attack as a “fight,” making it seem as though what occurred was not a hate crime.

According to numerous students of color at BHSECQ, the school system repeatedly falls short when it comes to the protection of minority students. The Black Student Union wondered why much had not been done to prevent the incident. The students felt that the school system was not there to protect them but rather to create obedience.

The student that caused the attack was suspended for a month and is now being supervised by a faculty member at all times at school. BSU feels that the response was adequate, but hopes that the school’s administration does more to make sure he is sufficiently monitored.

Isabella Juma also shared that the members of BSU “are not surprised [by] what has taken place,” because they often encounter such acts of violence and microaggressions in their daily lives. BSU aims to ensure that their school and government are doing all they can to protect minority communities.

In an email statement following the incident, Interim Acting Principal, Laura Hymson, noted that work was being done “towards creating a safe and welcoming school culture all of students, staff, and faculty deserve.”

“This silent protest is proof that students at Bard Queens want more protection from discriminatory violence at school,” said Julia Wysokinska, Deputy Director of Media Relations at Teens For Press Freedom. “They have the right to make their thoughts known, and hopefully school officials are more careful about how they attempt to prevent such attacks and how they react in the aftermath.”

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