Kaneland Students Starting a Minority Club

     Students of color at Kaneland High School are drawing up a proposal for a new club that will be centered around the racial minorities attending the school.

     The club, which has already gained interest from students, is being created by sophomores Aeryn Hwang and Sela Valignota with the intent of being a safe space for nonwhite students where they can advocate for racial injustice in Kaneland and elsewhere. While the club isn’t too far along in the process, it has already met the requirement of six interested students.

     “The minority community at Kaneland is very small,” sophomore Kaci Randall said. “I have personally experienced microaggressions here and I know other students have too, so I think banding together would create a safe space for us all.”

     Not everyone involved in the club has necessarily had bad experiences with being people of color at school, nor do they need to. Hwang, who will be co-president of the club alongside Valignota, acknowledges that to be what it’s like for her.

     “I didn’t get special treatment or bullied for being a minority, so it never really occurred to me as an issue,” Hwang said. “People of color obviously have different experiences with what they go through and I was lucky to not have any major problems.”

     To many, a platform for students of color seems to be long overdue. Kaneland is a predominantly white school, and issues of representation have not gone unnoticed by teachers and students alike. It’s a reason why there are people who are already in support of a club like this.

     “Not everybody at school is equally represented by things that are most commonly shared and taught about in classes,” Kaneland High School Spanish teacher Amanda Dennis said. “This could provide us with the opportunity to learn from each other and make improvements in our school environment, while keeping students connected here at Kaneland.”

     Racism and prejudice are not unique to white people, as many minorities are also taught stereotypes of different racial and ethnic groups. With one of the club’s goals being to educate people on these topics, Randall expressed her hope of bringing more awareness to that.

     “I think that if you tend to stereotype people from other groups, you most likely haven’t gotten to know anyone from them,” Randall said. “Meeting and learning about other minority groups will make it easier to realize that these stereotypes aren’t true and that you’ve only been believing what society has taught you.”

     While major racial activism has been going on since the mid-1900s, it has significantly heightened in recent years. With racially motivated incidents like the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, movements such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate have gained the spotlight. This has also caused a resurgence of the debate against critical race theory, which eight states have already passed legislation against. A minority club at Kaneland High School would not be able to change how everyone views minorities, nor would it be enough to change things nationwide. Yet, it already plans to bring small changes to the school setting.

     “What we want people to know is that we shouldn’t be treated differently just because we’re people of color,” Hwang said. “We’re still people with experiences and voices that need to be heard. I hope that this club can help others recognize the issues that we face and change how they might perceive us. For now, that’s the best thing we can do.”