Sit In to Stand Up (no author/op-ed??)

“I’m having a hard time rereading it because I’m so mad at the situation and the school,” Adanna Okiwelu says with a shudder of passion fuelled by anger and frustration. She’s perched on the blue benches that form an arrow pointing to the school in question, megaphone in one hand, speech in the other. 

Heavy drops of water preserved on the leaves of the shading trees that frame the historic building drop on our heads in intervals, reminding us of the changing seasons. The light is fresh and reminiscent of a new dawn. That dawn would be these students, these children, finally standing up to unresolved bigotry and disrespect. 

The students, numbering well over were fixed in a tight circle around her and the other speakers, quiet and respectful. At one point, restless students were reprimanded by peers, securing a respectful atmosphere. No phone insight. The sea of white t-shirts shining in the spring sun is complemented by the splashes of red created by their writing. Phrases such as “Zero Tolerance for Racism” and “You’re Hate is Disgusting” decorate the students gathering for a powerful demonstration of solidarity and wellness to not only foster change but create it. 

Student speakers discussed their experiences with racist remarks and attacks on our campus. Simply the discussion of such events, uncensored, created an environment where no one went unheard or silenced. The vulnerability of the speakers showed not only their courage but an environment full of love and understanding that the student body can create in demonstrations such as these. 

Adonna Okiwelu, Magus Morgan, Jerry Loya, Dylan Peña Pérez, Solange Anjeh, Kharlo D’Angelo Gallardo Vargas, Violeta Flores, and KatieAnn Nguyen called out not only the reactions of the administration to recent racist incidents but the community that allows racism to persist and seems to protect those who commit racist acts from justice. In this community and the greater Sebastapol area, precedent is set that acts of hate and discrimination will not be tolerated, so why must these events among the student body go unheard? Unseen? Unknown? Speakers upheld these beliefs more thoroughly than many others in the community have in years. 

The sit-in was concluded by a moment of silence to honor the victims of racism on our campus that had to stay quiet about their experiences and see their community remain unchanged. Overall, the successful and eye opening demonstration exemplified the power the students are harnessing the power to set a standard for this school that racism will not be a haven for hate.