Q&A: Boston Latin School BLACK’s Elma Edwards

Boston Latin School's BLACK hosts a black out event where students wore black to bring awareness to systematic racism.
Written by Megan Moore

Megan Moore
BU News Service

After months of discussions and meetings, Boston Latin School’s Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge (BLACK) decided it was time to take a stand. It had been more than a year since the group had turned in a binder full of racially charged tweets to headmaster Dr. Lynne Mooney Teta, and BLACK decided it was time to get her attention. The group created a hashtag on Twitter to start a discussion and launched a Youtube video stating its mission. The organization has met with school and city officials to work to address the inaction of racial tension at the school. It has also hosted several events, such as a Black Out where students wore black to bring awareness to the issue of systematic racism happening at the school, and a Black Lives Matter concert. Elma Edwards, a senior and vice president of the organization, has been working with six other officers to build momentum for the movement.

BU News Service: How do you feel administrators are handling everything as of now?

Elma Edwards: She’s (Teta) doing a really good job because she’s actually open to hearing what has been going on. She’s open to making changes, so we’re really happy about that. It wasn’t what we expected.

BUNS: The organization is mentioned in her (Teta’s) six point plan. Do you want to be involved with her in that aspect?

EE: We would love to be involved but at the same time we feel like it’s the schools job to make it a comfortable environment for all students of different races, for everyone, gender, sex. So, we would be open to helping her but it’s really her job to do that as an administrator.

BUNS: A lot of people have been tweeting in with their stories. How has that effected you personally?

EE: I feel like it’s terrible. There’s been students from like the 90s, the early 2000s, people who have recently graduated telling these stories I can relate to and I just wonder why hasn’t anything been before. Like in the 90s that twenty years ago and we’re still facing the problem now. It’s just really surprising. It’s hurtful too that no one will take the time to care, to solve these issues.

BUNS: What is some of the backlash that you’re facing?

EE: Comments off of the video, and some of the articles that have been posted. They’re like “oh, they should just get over it. Racism doesn’t exist. They’re being too sensitive. Just live with it. You should be happy that you go to BLS. You live such a privileged life.”  You can’t desensitize my feelings. You’re not living through my experience. You don’t know how I feel walking through the halls being a person of color at school.

BUNS: What is the culture like at the school now?

EE: When it first started, it was very tense. You could feel the tension. People who were against it were really strong on one side and people who were for it were really strong on one side and then when they would come together to talk about it, it would get aggressive and hostile. People couldn’t really find a happy medium to talk about it, but it’s calmed down now.

BUNS: How are you navigating conversations with people?

EE: We’re just trying to educate people calmly. Nobody has to be angry. Sometimes ignorance has a bad connotation, but sometimes you just don’t know that if you say something to someone it could be offensive. So it’s our job to educate people and not try to make it into an uncomfortable situation but help them understand what they’re saying may offend someone.

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