By Somaya Laroussi
With the ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations taking place nationwide, young Revere residents have begun vocalizing a demand for public figures, community members, and city officials to address the crisis. Collectively, they have released a sign-on letter, calling attention to racial injustice and demanding action be taken locally.
“Black Lives Matter is a movement that fights for the injustice of my people,” says Seba Ismail, a Revere High School alum and member of the class of 2019. “To me, it is action. It is equality. It is a voice against white silence.”
Led by a different member of the class of 2019, Somaya Laroussi, youth of all ages and backgrounds managed to connect virtually to express their concerns to one another and translate their feelings into words and actions.
“Acknowledging social injustices is not political, which too often is forgotten,” clarifies Soleil Yuong, a current RHS student aged 17. “ Asking community leaders to speak out about the current situation often gets confused with pushing an agenda on them. If you claim you support minority groups in the past, that should hold true, now, more than ever.”
An estimated 69% of enrolled Revere Public School (RPS) students are of color (and identify as members of ethnic minority groups).
But, both current and previous Revere High students feel that the ethnic diversity is often exploited.
Stephanie Carvalho, RHS class of 2019, explains that, “it seems to me that Revere High loves to tout its diversity when they get awards or grant money out of it, but when it comes to acknowledging the trauma that affects that diversity … they’resilent.”
Faith Nwafor, RHS class of 2021, echoes her sentiments in explaining that in her seventeen years living in Revere, “I have yet to see people of color in office. As a young Black girl in Revere, it’s already hard enough as it is, but feeling like there’s no one to represent people of color in our community is disheartening.”
“There is a clear and apparent disconnect between the people and authority in our community and that needs to be addressed now,” proclaims Somaya Laroussi, local community organizer and RHS alum.
She goes on to explain that “continued indifference by people responsible for protecting Revere youth will only make us more unsafe.”
Laroussi is the primary organizer of this project and has led a number of social justice campaigns on behalf of Revere youth for years. The group of youth promoting this are not affiliated by any organization in particular and hope to simply ensure the safety and protection of their community members. This sign-on letter project is also not affiliated in any way with the now-cancelled peaceful demonstration that was meant to take place June 5 in Revere. The timing of the two projects was coincidental.
The letter urges local leaders to immediately take steps to address the ongoing crisis, including:
• Urge your constituents not to affiliate with other racist platforms, organizations, and public figures that have attempted to profit off of the ongoing struggles of Revere youth.
• Commit to working to dedicate spaces for youth, especially Black Revere youth, to vocalize their feelings and organize. Commit time to listening to youth voices at these spaces.
• Continue to support upcoming initiatives that Revere youth of color will be pushing for in the coming weeks.
• The sentiments going out to the Black community on behalf of the youth are summarized by Minnah Sheikh, RHS class of 2021, as she explains, “As allies of the Black community, it is our responsibility to continue to elevate the voices of those who have been silenced with years of systemic racial injustice. To our Black peers, you are heard and you are valued. You matter.”
The letter has just been released and submitted to local public officials including city council members, school committee members, Superintendent Dr. Diane Kelly, Mayor Brian Arrigo. As of this press release, the sign-on letter has 622 signatures.
Somaya Laroussi is a 2019 Revere High School graduate and a community organizer based in the Shirley Avenue neighborhood. She has no affiliation with the organizers of the now cancelled protest being planned for Friday.