The year of 2020 has been difficult for many people across the country. Many of us faced challenges as COVID-19 swarmed the globe, restricting us from our normal way of life, and highlighting racial tensions heightened by several incidents of police brutality. Unfortunately, these pressing times have unveiled the underlying racial discrimination and sexual harassment taking place in our very own school community.
Upon realizing this, we came together and created Central High School’s very first Black empowerment magazine, Afrocentric. Afrocentric is a place to empower Black students, to share our voices, our words, our art, and our opinions. Too often the voices of Black people are stifled and overlooked, so this magazine is meant to magnify them.
We define empowerment as the strength, confidence, and control we feel when our voices are being heard. We aim to uplift Black Central students and to have an appreciation for Black talent every month of the year. This country was founded on a Eurocentric bias that portrays Black people as uneducated aggressors: it’s time that we rewrite this narrative and highlight the Afrocentric perspective.
We want to get ahead of the accusations that will be hurled our way, claims that we are discriminating against students of other races, or that we are segregating ourselves from the larger Central community. In response to this, we would like to explain the difference between segregation and separation.
Segregation, in the negative racial connotation, is a set of policies and practices that oppress groups of people. For example, in the era of Jim Crow, Black people were restricted in regards to where they were able to eat, live, shop, work, and attend school. This forced exclusion was disempowering because it did not provide us with equal opportunities and resources and implied that we were not equal to our Non-Black peers.
Separation is different: separation is a choice. As Black people, we are choosing to create a brave space for ourselves within the larger school community. American Students of Asian Origin, Hispanic Cultures United, the Middle Eastern North African Society, and the Indian Pakistani Cultural Organization did this, so the idea of creating a separate space is not radical. However, we will be the first magazine at Central to unite and uplift Black people specifically.
Separation does not mean isolation from other racial groups; we have an amazing group of allies standing in our corner. They listen to us, support us, create uplifting art, and write articles to help others understand our mission. We embrace people who commit to the arduous journey of becoming allies in our mission and who are determined to actively combat racism in the world around us. Artists of different facets and different races are welcome to contribute to our magazine as long as their work reflects the ideologies of Afrocentric.
Having a classmate go unpunished for their racist posts on social media; being told during International Week that ‘Black’ is not a culture; being told that our headwraps and durags are in “violation” of school dress code; seeing leaked messages from fellow classmates saying that they want to rape Black girls to “give them something to complain about” and messages from the wrestling team with blatant racism and homophobia. This is our painful reality as Black Central students, and we are tired of being expected to turn the other cheek.