By Jenny Macler ’23
In honor of black history month, the Black and Latino Union (BALU) held a roundtable discussion on the evening of Saturday, February 25. They covered topics from the World Cup to the new AP African American Studies class as they respectfully shared their thoughts and ideas on the implications of these events and why they are relevant to our future.
Students and faculty were both present as Lucy Sanchez ‘23 and Jason Suin ‘24 led the conversation. Thanks to Mr. Drew, there was also food ordered from a black-owned restaurant in New Haven. The discussion began at 5 pm and lasted until 6:30 pm in the Tpacc flex room.
The first topic of discussion focused on worker’s rights in the context of the World Cup in Qatar this past year. 6,500 migrants died during the construction of the seven new stadiums and many new roads, airports, and hotels to host the event. Many people agreed that while the treatment and deaths of these workers were distressing, it was potentially valuable to have these abuses brought to light through the media coverage that the World Cup brought. Members of the discussion noted, however, that the pressure to improve working conditions might fade over time as people move on to other issues highlighted by the media. Ashleen Hay ‘23 observed that brief and sensationalized coverage is a common problem in today’s media. While no one denied the tragedy of this event, the group concluded that they hope, at the very least, that the Fifa committee will be more cautious in planning future World Cups and protecting workers’ rights.
The second topic of discussion was the new AP African American studies being tested out this year. Opposition to this class was quickly vocalized, especially by Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis. The group discussed the reasoning behind why or why not this class should be incorporated into the AP system and what causes people to support or oppose it. We concluded that the main reasons for arguments about this class were political power and personal experiences. Focusing on certain topics in schools can sway people to vote toward a specific bias, making education a tool for gaining political power. Both political parties are guilty of it as they do everything in their power to influence people to their cause. On the other hand, personal experiences can change the perspective that people have toward teaching subjects such as intersectionality and critical race theory.
While organized in celebration of black history month, this discussion provided an outlet for students and faculty to discuss real-world events that affect all people. The members of BALU worked hard to make this discussion possible and hope to have more meetings like this in the future.