Seniors Phoenix Tudryn and Julian Taylor, along with four other students, started the Black and Brown Students Coalition at Carrboro High School and a podcast to amplify the voices of students of color during the pandemic.
What was the motivation to create the Black and Brown Students Coalition at Carrboro High?
Phoenix: At the beginning of the school year, we were in such a stressful time at school with everything going on with George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic. There were different decisions being made inside that school that were happening without student input, and especially without the input of Black and Brown students. Like, how we were going to operate in virtual school and what types of things could be done to support students? And when they asked for student input? They were primarily asking white students. So, we understood that there was a need for a platform where student voices, specifically marginalized voices, could be amplified.
Where did the idea for your podcast come from?
Julian: We’ve seen that there are a lot of student groups who are discussion groups and have a lot of great discussions for students of color. But, there aren’t that many student groups who are able to reach administration. We want to give a platform for students to be able to talk directly to the administration.
How do you choose the topics for your podcast?
Phoenix: It’s pretty organic. We see a need, then we try to get student input. We did a Black Lives Matter one, with Black youth talking about their experience, just processing the whole George Floyd situation and everything that followed. Educators were struggling with how to address systemic racism and the effects in the classroom. Another one was about the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools board’s decision to leave a Latina out when there’s no Latinx representation on the board, even though we make up 20 percent of the population.
What has the school’s response been like?
Julian: The biggest response has been from teachers. I remember at the beginning of the year, when we released the first podcast about virtual learning and how they can help students, a lot of teachers got rid of due dates and stuff like that just to help students with responsibilities.
Which episode has had the greatest impact?
Julian: The Black Lives Matter one was probably the most impactful, because it went the farthest. It’s been used in the UNC School of Education. I know that other teachers in the district are using it, and other districts are using it, too.
How does the podcast coincide with the action you engage in within the school and district? What’s the relationship there?
Phoenix: We don’t just do podcasts. We really like having conversations and actually going ahead with action plans with teachers. We helped make all sporting events free for students next year, we partnered with an organization at UNC to bring about free ACT tutoring for our entire school. So, we’re doing a lot of stuff based in action, because in our school, historically, usually affinity groups are just about talking. And there’s really no action plans that address the issues that we always talk about as students of color. If we’re gonna keep talking about something, might as well just do something about it.
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