Shades Club Offers Support to Kingsway Students

“Use your skills, your knowledge, your instincts to serve — to change the world in the way that only you can” (Robert F. Smith). With this in mind, Kingsway students have started a new club founded by Kennedi Avent, Lay Laa Brown, and Sumayyah Turner. The club is advised by history teacher Kristan Ward, and educational support professional, Evette Fearon.

SHADES is “…a new club for students to embrace African American culture, and to build successful social and academic connections”, Ward said. The club was founded by students, who approached the teachers to start the club. There are about 60 students in the growing club. Since this is just the beginning of SHADES, there is limited funding. The Kingsway community supported SHADES this Black History Month through their fundraiser by purchasing handmade masks with an ebonic design for twelve dollars.

Before the club was fully formed, Conor Smith sat down with the club president to get her thoughts on why this club is important for the school.

What are some of the goals of the club? Some of the goals of Shades are to have conscious conversations about issues affecting Black Students and the Black community. We want to encourage all students (not just black) to become culturally aware of issues that impact students of color in our school, community, and country. We want to unify the student body at Kingsway.

Do you think Kingsway does enough to promote social change? I do not believe that Kingsway does enough to promote social change.  I believe that the school tries to avoid the subject to avoid pushback from students. I believe that this is harmful, because if change is never talked about, how are students going to see their mistakes and fix them? They won’t and the same cycles of discrimination will continue.

What specific Kingsway policies do you feel are unfair to students of color? I believe the one policy that specifically is unfair to students of color is that we are not allowed to wear scarves or durags. I think that the school fails to realize that they are part of our hair care and, in some cases, a necessity. I feel like the school looks at them and puts them in the “hat” category when that’s not what it’s used for at all.

How could public schools, in general, make greater strides to be more inclusive and combat racism?I believe that public schools could make sure they keep an open space for their students who are minorities to talk and be open to them. I believe that a lot of racism gets swept under the rug or isn’t brought to administration in worry that the issue won’t get addressed. I also think that assemblies and talks in the classroom will be helpful as well. It will get students thinking about the issues within their school and what they can do as a student body to fight the racism in their school.