I attended the PATH IAF/HCEA meeting last night at UUCC. It was my first full-scale PATH event, and it gave me a glimpse at why this community organizing group has been so successful. I'm going to have more to say about the theme of the evening later in the week. It's going to take some time to process all the information and do it justice.
Today I want to talk about one of last night's speakers. I know her on Twitter as @llurking . I started following her in the aftermath of the turmoil caused by the racist video posted by a Mount Hebron student. While the administration was instructing all of us to look away, Lina was challenging us to look at it and own that this ugliness was also a part of the Howard County experience.
Lina and her friend Sara (@saracherni ) worked together to mobilize students and the community to support a student-led walkout. They created the hashtags #stopthesilencestartaconversation and #hocostudentwalkout and used them on Twitter to spread their message. They participated in WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi Show in a discussion on protesting racism at school.
The activism of these two students and their engaging and effective use of Twitter contributed to a much broader discussion of race and discrimination within our community. But it goes further than that. From Sara:
Last week Lina and I were flown into San Francisco to speak on a panel series called "Creators for change" hosted by Twitter. We shared our story as the organizers of the Hoco Student walkout and how we used Twitter, periscope and the hashtag as a platform to bring the community together to stand against racism and discrimination in Howard county schools. The panel was broadcasted to all 34 Twitter HQ around the globe and we were featured on twitter's teatime special. Along with this amazing opportunity, we had a 30 minute meeting with Jack Dorsey (CEO of Twitter) !!! We shared our story and heard his input on the power of the hashtag and how he built up the company. We are the first young people to be invited to their HQ to speak! The entire event felt surreal and I'm so grateful we had the opportunity to share our story with a widespread and progressive audience!! If you don't have a Twitter, do yourself a favor and make an account...it might change the way you see and interact with the world.
Lina spoke at the PATH meeting last night about racism in our schools and what we need to do to address it. She challenged us to commit to making Howard County a better place for our children and youth. Her words were thoughtful and powerful, her presentation confident. I am so grateful to her, to Sara, and all the students who refused to be silent and chose, as their response to a shameful act, to start a conversation.
These two students truly embody the kind of excellence that HCPSS should be celebrating.