The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

EDITORIAL: If this truly is the #1 school in New York, its leaders must condemn police brutality and act against it

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FROM THE EDITORS OF THE CLASSIC

Across the country, people and organizations are being rightly scrutinized for their inability to condemn racism and police brutality after the killing of George Floyd. Last week, the Townsend Harris Alumni Association (THAA) drew intense criticism for releasing a statement that failed to mention the Black Lives Matter movement. THAA apologized for its first statement, but in both statements from THAA and in the sole communication students received from the school we have yet to see direct acknowledgement and discussion of the police brutality that perpetuates racial injustice across the country.

Above all, we have also yet to see a statement to the student body on these matters from Principal Brian Condon. 

The THAA showed that a lot can be said without saying much at all, so The Classic will be direct:

  1. There is no neutrality when it comes to state-sanctioned violence against Black people. In an attempt to remain apolitical to avoid biases about the situation, THAA blatantly disregarded a critical part of the problem. Refusing to name this is itself immoral.
  2. A police officer killed George Floyd. He is not the first Black American killed by police brutality. We need to say his name and all of the names of those who have died in the hands of the police. Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, and Breonna Taylor are a few of the many names that we could list. Failure to properly recognize the victims and the institution that has oppressed and murdered them contributes to perpetuating that oppression. 
  3. We appreciate calls to action for a more inclusive THHS. Such calls should be part of the conversation, but this current moment is about the role systemic racism plays in enabling and protecting police brutality in our own city and in our country.
  4. The principal should release a statement where he directly presents his administration’s stance on police brutality. He should also present a coordinated plan to educate our students in class about it, before school ends. Mr. Condon committed to having “courageous conversations” in response to the #notmytownsend group’s posts. This is the time for the courage to turn those conversations into actions. 
  5. If this is truly the #1 high school in New York, it should also be our responsibility to lead towards action and be transparent in the process. This open letter from alumni outlines actions the school could take that speak more to the present moment. Its specific suggestions deserve a response.  

Using our voice as the school newspaper, we will be watching and reporting how conversations and actions in response to police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement take place in the THHS community. 

Signed,

Samantha Alzate, Editor-in-Chief

Isabelle Guillaume, Editor-in-Chief

Amanda Renzi, Editor-in-Chief

Nikki Ng, Managing Editor

Victoria Oei, Managing Editor

Samantha Sestak, Managing Editor

Ifeoluwa Adedokun, Opinion Editor

Julia Wojtkowski, News Editor

Julianna Zitron, News Editor

Amberly Khan, Opinion Editor

Ariana Vernon, Sports Editor

Abhinav Garg, Sports Editor

Kristen Zhou, Sports Editor

Victoria Kuzma, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Usha Sookai, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Jason Bacalla, Photograprahy Editor

Katrina Dydzuhn, Photography Editor

Joshua Vieira, Photography Editor

Victor Shemper, Layout Editor

Alexa Jude Tumulak, Layout Editor

Jacqueline Woo, Layout Editor

Ryla Pasaoa, Science & Technology Editor

Carly Hu, Features Editor

Amrin Rahman, Features Editor

Ava Nabatkhoran, Multimedia Editor

 

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    Earl PoyserJun 9, 2020 at 2:46 pm

    I as an old head Townsend Harris 1994 graduate am very proud of these spectacular students of moral initiative. Keep doing what you do. I’m glad to see that THHS is in good hands and for that I am hopeful for the future. Now I’ll address the Townsend Harris Alumni Association and Principal Brian Condon:

    In these turbulent times it is coming to the forefront for mainstream eyes that many social, health care, and economic variables have consistently affected people of color within a regressive scope. It all came to a symbolic head when the Covid-19 riddled body of George Floyd became mercilessly engulfed by the tentacles of racism represented by that perennial knee that’s been imposing itself upon Black existence for centuries. It’s a sad reality that this long established pandemic of anti-Black racism and the most recent example of disproportionate health adversities have collided most cruelly within the body of another Black man. It was recently discovered in an autopsy that Mr. Floyd was a carrier of the coronavirus. Did he know? Would he have been able to access viable treatment had he known? It speaks to the myriad questions we as Black people have to contend with because of an uncertainty toward hopes for fairness and institutional accessibilities. Sad to say that we don’t know. It’s sad to say that the disease of brutalization and systemic evil had snuffed out even the opportunities for George Floyd to address the ailment on his own terms thus saving himself and loved ones. It’s sad to have to cry out, “Not again!” It’s sad that it took this latest example of black subjugation, humiliation, and terror for the acknowledgment of what we’ve been yelling from the rooftops for eons. But here we are. What are we going to do about it because vocal cords are strained? It’s sad to say we don’t know if this new uproar from disparate communities of all backgrounds, faiths, and socioeconomic tidings will engender real meaningful change in a system designed specifically to simultaneously oppress, adapt, gaslight, and plausibly deny its very existence. These are solemn concerns to mull over within historical and contemporary context. It is also a concern if for those who are positions of influence and/or power decide to shirk their responsibilities to take the proverbial bull by the horns.

    It is my hope that you will be able to understand that this Black Lives Matter initiative is about forcing this system and those who benefit from to recognize and affirm the value of black life (quality and quantity) because by our own eyes it has not been made indisputable. Beauty standards, health care, housing, policing, wealth distribution, economic standing, political representation, lack of school funding, mass incarceration, etc. have made this assertion all too clear. We don’t have the answers right now, but my prediction of inertia via repetition is sure to be manifested if nothing is tried. It’s time to give this Editorial body what it rightfully demands.

    Steer conversation, elicit change through collaborative action with those who are reaching out, take a stance that displays a courage and decency you’d want kids to proliferate in greater society, infuse classroom lessons with a true de-fluffed representation of America’s undertakings, and encourage all perspectives to enter the fold of diversity and dialogue. On a national scale it’s ultimately up to the bigger heads atop the totem pole of influence to trickle down their privilege to the ones that have been continually holding up the beacon of hope and the burden of America’s constitutional promises. Within these confines of Townsend Harris you can now on behalf of Mr. Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other people of color do your part and breathe new life into the struggle.

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