Black Student Union connects students in high school community

Students trickled into the classroom and congregated with old friends and new acquaintances. Boisterous conversations almost distracted from the blaring physics posters plastered to the wall. Teenagers cast aside homework, tests and worry. This was the Black Student Union.

The club met biweekly on Tuesdays at Carmel High School in Indiana, and had only begun in the second semester. Already about 20 members had joined, including high school junior Jordyn Blakey.

“The goal is to unite all of the black students in Carmel High School, since there’s not that many,” Blakey said. “To get all of us together so we could socialize and talk about things that are affecting us as black students.”

According to U.S. News, the total minority enrollment of the 4,774 student body at Carmel High School was 21 percent in the 2013-2014 school year. Of this, only 4 percent were black.

All members of the Black Student Union were African-American, but anyone could join.

“The whole ‘black student’ thing made people think that if you’re not black you can’t join, but if we turned people away that’d be like discrimination. That’s not what the Black Student Union does,” Blakey said.

Instead, the club enlightened students.

“[It’s] given me a chance to open my eyes on my school, on how it’s not just one type of people,” Blakey said.

As the club increases in size, Blakey hopes it will spread awareness about people of color in Carmel. For instance, every weekday in February, nationally recognized as Black History Month, members read black history facts over announcements for the entire school to hear.

“[The] general population isn’t informed and that’s what we’re going to work towards next year,” Blakey said.

Both classmates and teachers supported the group, including two sponsors, one of whom was white. Students even shared news about the club through word-of-mouth.

“I haven’t had any experience with people not liking it. At least not to me, anyway,” Blakey said.

During meetings, members discussed current events which affected them personally or their race as a whole and suggested different activities available around the school. Although the club commented on politics, the Black Student Union was not founded with political reasons in mind. Rather, the club is a place for students to share experiences, connect with classmates, express themselves and assist the community through volunteer work.

According to the Carmel High School website, the purpose of school clubs is to create tighter relationships between students, and the Black Student Union fulfills these requirements. From inside jokes to school-wide activities, members increase bonds within the club and throughout the school.

Unlike an organized political movement, the Black Student Union is “Just a group of people that can relate,” Blakey said. “I think it’s just fun things,” she said.

Members of the club joined, not to make a statement, but to discover who they are as an individual and as a group. “[They] want to find out about themselves and others who are like them,” Blakey said.

Blakey already had circles of friends with whom she could relate, but found the Black Student Union allowed for her to find a niche she could connect to on another level.

“When people think of Black Student Union, it’s not always political and trying to take some side,” Blakey said. “It’s just kids hanging out.”