Creating Communities for Minorities

From Indianapolis to DC, a rising high school senior immerses herself in social justice initiatives within her communities. 

17-year-old Rylan Harvey attends Cathedral High School, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. White folks take up a majority of the Indianapolis population, similar to the CHS population. It can be difficult for people of color to have a voice in situations like these.

Addressing being a black student at CHS, Harvey states: “Personally, you feel like you stand out as a minority. I think people may feel intimidated by different races.”

But Harvey has helped create a space for people of color to have a strong voice in her community and has become a part of the Black Student Union at her school. CHS’s Black Student Union (BSU) is a community and safe space for black people at the school, and it promotes activities including cultural and educational benefits for all students.

BSU began in the 2017-2018 school year, though Harvey wishes it began earlier. “They’ve been trying to start a black student union since the 90’s. It didn’t start earlier because of miscommunications and other difficulties,” Harvey said. The minority population at CHS is growing every year; Harvey and her peers were finally able to produce an essential program in their school.

Not only is Harvey involved in the BSU, but she is also involved in the Embrace club, Social Justice Forum, and Women’s Forum. These programs help spark conversations on issues in America, with a specific focus on race, feminism, inclusiveness, and diversity.

In addition, Harvey was chosen to travel to Washington D.C. in May to attend the Truth Initiative office. “It was a great experience! We got to go to Capitol Hill and spoke to Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly and other representatives such as Todd Young and Andre Carson.” The Youth Media Institute of the Indiana Black Expo brought Harvey and 3 other black students so they could send a message to Indiana’s representatives regarding smoking in the media. They even created a commercial with a purpose of taking smoking out of TV shows and movies.

On top of all of the social justice work Harvey is involved in, she also serves as the Sports Editor for her school yearbook, runs for the Track and Field team, works as a Golf Caddie at Meridian Hills Country Club, and in her free time makes videos for Youtube. Harvey is an extremely busy high school student, yet she is still able to maintain effective work and conversations within her strong communities.