This article is a transcript of the speech given by junior Jackson Schiefelbein at the Black History Month assembly on Feb. 10.
The theme of this assembly is "Heroes Then, Heroes Now". I understand it may seem that this "heroes club" is exclusive to the celebrities, the wealthy, those who "have a voice", because they’re the ones who we remember. However, when it comes to racial equality, every individual plays a role- this includes us: students, people of all races.
For some, it may seem out of the ordinary that I take this stance, but it shouldn’t have to. I mean, am I not fighting for people’s inherent rights that should be guaranteed to them not only as humans, but as Americans?
No one should fall victim to discrimination because of their skin color, nor should I receive any benefits or comforts for mine. Even though this is seemingly common knowledge, I still receive second looks -including from my own parents- when I wear this shirt, when I tell people that I have a Black Empowerment club meeting to go to.
But being white doesn't mean that I can't support Black Lives Matter and racial equality, there was even a time when I didn’t- a time when I didn’t understand the scope of the issue and the implications it creates; but it’s because I'm white that my support for it now has such a powerful effect, and I must use this attention to do good and facilitate equality. Furthermore, it’s important to acknowledge that pro-black does not mean anti-white or anti- any race, at that. It is simply the belief that individuals, regardless of their racial characteristics, are morally, politically, and legally equal and should be treated as such.
That being said, I extend this same power to you all, regardless of race, nationality, religion, personal beliefs. It is up to us to ensure that everyone is treated amicably and equally- something that we have control of within our school.
I’m asking that you take a stand for what is right- the protection of black rights -rather than ignore it or think of it as not your problem to solve. Please join me in making the idea of true race equality a reality- one that is supported by everyone as well. In doing so, we will not only overcome the racial prejudices and barriers created in the past, but we will also help our friends, fellow students, and society as a whole. Thank you.