AUTHOR: Bronx Leadership Academy II Journalists  |  AGE 14-18

During the winter and spring of 2016, students from Bronx Leadership Academy II took on the roles of journalists, editors, and photographers to publish two newsletters. They tackle issues including school violence, bullying against LGBTQ communities, the presidential election, and more.


African Immigration Discrimination by Leslie Twimasi

In elementary school, I was called “an African booty-scratcher” for answering a question incorrectly in class. I felt offended by what my classmate said, but I didn’t take it too seriously since I was very young. Some Americans born in the United States view immigrants as people they have never seen before and their cultures as being way different from American culture. Even at school, students of African descent are often discriminated against because of their clothes, religion, language, and physical appearance. A student from Africa who goes to school in the Bronx told me, “Two girls and one boy were laughing at me because I wore a scarf to school and they asked, ‘Is this part of your culture or are you doing this for fun?’”

It’s not appropriate to disrespect someone's culture—that’s like my saying celebrating Halloween is stupid. Not everyone in the world is the same. There are many different religions, cultures, and races in the world. Although many Americans view immigrants as outsiders, 13.3 percent of the United States population are immigrants (over one million people). As of 2015, 4.4 percent of those million people are African immigrants. America’s history is built upon immigrants and the ideas these people contributed to make America as great as it is today.

However, in 2015, our Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump tweeted, “My grandparents didn’t come to America all the way from Germany to see it get taken over by immigrants. Not on my watch.” There are many stereotypes about African immigrants here in the United States. African students experience a lot of discrimination, sometimes just because kids can be cruel and say inappropriate things. Since I was young, I've witnessed kids who are not from here being harassed about where they come from. Kids talked about how their parents couldn’t afford to buy them shoes, so they walked around barefoot. Although social media portrays Africa as a place where people live in huts, walk around with no clothes or shoes, hunt for food, etc., these stereotypes are not true.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian novelist who writes books about her life experiences in Nigeria and America. During her 2009 TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” Adichie talks about her roommate questioning Adichie about her culture and how she lives. Adichie explains, “She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove.” She also states, “ She asked if she could listen to what she called my ‘tribal music,’ and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey.” Explaining to Americans that anything you have here in the United States is present in Africa as well is very frustrating. Successful celebrities are known all over the world, so why wouldn’t people in Africa know about these people as well? Adichie thought about why he roommate would think of Africa like this and she finally realized why. She came to understand why her roommate said this. She states, “If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner. I would see Africans in the same way that I, as a child, had seen Fide's family.” Africa on social media has been made into a joke, but children are dying of hunger due to legacies of imperialism and the actions of corrupt governments. Poverty and overcrowding strike Africa as well. Yet, there’s poverty all over the world—I want to know why Africa comes up when people talk about this issue.

On behalf of all immigrants, I’m not saying Americans should do what immigrants are doing, but respect them and allow them to be who they are without feeling uncomfortable. After all, in 2015, President Obama explained, “We don’t simply welcome new immigrants, we don’t simply welcome new arrivals—we are born of immigrants. That is who we are. Immigration is our origin.” The person who discovered America was an immigrant—why hate on immigrants if they were the ones who made America? If you experience discrimination, make sure you correct whatever the person or group of people is saying to you and prove them wrong.

Conflict Between Students by Emmanuella Sally Crabbe

Students in my class told me that last year there were a lot of fights at Bronx Leadership Academy II (BLAII), especially during lunch and gym. This year, the number of fights has gone down, but I didn’t know why. I asked our dean, Ms. Grayman, what made the number of fights decrease from last year to this year. She told me that there used to be longer periods for lunch and gym, and there tended to be more fights then. But now that lunch and gym have shorter periods, and there are more teachers around, students know that they’ll be given detention or suspension for getting into fights. So, it affects the students, and they reduce the fighting. According to one source from 2011, “twenty percent of high school students were bullied at school and thirty-three percent reported being involved in a physical fight last year. In nearly one month, six percent of high school students stayed home because they felt unsafe on their way to school.”

I wanted to know more, so I interviewed Ms. White, a Substance Abuse Prevention Intervention Specialist, after she came to speak to my class about conflict resolution. We spoke two times, in her office and in my French classroom after class.

Emmanuella: May I know the purpose of your job at BLAII?

Ms. White: My purpose here at BLAII is to do prevention lessons for students in the ninth and tenth grades, to prepare them for their experience in high school.

E: What is a conflict resolution?

Ms. W: A conflict resolution is when there’s an argument between two people that cannot be resolved by itself. However, with a mediator or a person to intervene between the two, we are looking for solutions to a problem...and it should be a win-win situation where everyone is comfortable with the resolution to their problem.

E: OK, how does conflict resolution work?

Ms. W: Conflict resolution works in one way in particular: having all parties involved present for a meeting. Each side presents their concerns, [and they look] for a compromise to the problem where each person is in agreement about a resolution.

E: How can students let things go, and not lead to conflict?

Ms. W: For me, in doing classroom presentations, various aspects of what conflicts are [so] students begin to look at them, and recognize them...“Oh, that looks like a conflict. And, what’s a solution?” Rather than thinking, “I have to be always right.”

E: What specifically can they do?

Ms. W: The students can actually learn the skill, and put it to practice... They can actually see something occurring within the school environment, and make suggestions on how the problems can be solved.

E: What are some skills for students to learn?

Ms. W: a) Recognize that problems do exist; b) that problems can be solved; c) if they are not prepared to solve the problems, they could look to a trusted adult for resolution to their problems; and/or d) perhaps recognize that they can solve problems, and apply the skills that they have learned.

E: How do you decide when to stick up for yourself, and when to let it go?

Ms. W: If it’s a violent situation involving fights, you’re not looking for the best way to fight, you’re looking for the best way to not engage in fighting.

Why is it important for students to think about the consequences before they fight? According to the Child Trends Data Bank, “Youth attending schools where fighting is common may be unable to maintain the focus necessary for academic success.” Most students I know want to do well in school so they can go to college. I’m glad to be here, and I’m glad the fights have decreased, so, hopefully, we can all go to college and be successful in life.