Editor-In-Chief Sagun Shrestha speaks with ASA Vice President Eastwood Yeboah about the importance of Black History Month and its connections to recent events that have transpired.
Sagun: Hi I’m Sagun Shrestha and this is the third episode of Coyo-tea for the school year. Today I’m here with…
Eastwood: …Eastwood Yeboah…
Sagun: …our school’s ASA vice president to talk about Black History Month and the impact that it has on our world today. So to start off, my first question for you would be: what would you say is the importance of Black History Month?
Eastwood: I know there is a lot of history surrounding Black History Month and all of the world it’s celebrated differently, so to me Black History Month is kind of just recognizing the importance of Black figures, Black actions, you know, Black history in general and the impact it’s had on our world today, despite the advancements and all the adversities Black people have faced.
Sagun: And would you say that this year was different than years past, and if so, how?
Eastwood: Well, of course you have to recognize because of COVID we are in a virtual environment, and you know, with all the kind of racial kind of tensions going on in our country and all over the world, it’s been harder to recognize the kind of things that are going on and unite against these efforts, but you know still recognize it on social media, Instagram and Snapchat and stuff like that.
Sagun: And are there any specific events that you would want to highlight?
Eastwood: Yeah, you know things like the Capitol Riot in January, those were definitely a big thing I saw on social media and right now attacks on Asian Americans and generalizing kind of racial tensions that have been going on, things like that kind of go to show what’s been going on. Just in the deaths of people like George Floyd and Rodney King and kind of the topic around police violence and things like that all kinds of things in the community.
Sagun: How would you say has that impacted, maybe, our perception of events? Or how would you say that those things have maybe changed the way that we, maybe, as a society are viewing things? Are people coming to action more, would you say?
Eastwood: Yeah definitely and the way that social media, where it’s a lot easier to distribute information, word gets around fast and you can see things like protests down our school and protests down 355. You get things like that and I think that with social media, it’s easier for people to band together against these issues and really come to make a united voice.
Sagun: So would you say that people are more united right now, or do you think that we are even more polarized than we were before?
Eastwood: Honestly, I think you can look at it from kind of both perspectives. It’s depending on who you ask and to me I see unity, despite these efforts of what’s been going on and I think there’s unity in the polarization, you really just have to get that bigger perspective and kind of see those efforts despite everything that’s been going on.
Sagun: And how could you possibly connect these events to Black History Month as a whole do you think?
Eastwood: I think just talking about it. I think, you know, normalizing these conversations. These are things that are happening and these are things that are part of our history too, so I think just talking about these issues and really making it known despite the different types of interpretations you may have.
Sagun: And so what do you think would be some of the teachings you would say that would come from Black History Month?
Eastwood: I think in our community, a great example is kind of initiatives that have been led by the Ambassadors, you know it’s cohort of student leaders at our school who have different social issues that they bring to attention, they help with different clubs at our school too, but recently in February they put together a Black History Month celebration, where it was kind of highlighting Black history in different perspectives from different departments, so it was just a great way to highlight our history and help give students SSL hours too. So things like that are kind of bringing issues to the light and teaching people around us.
Sagun: And so how do you think we can extend these teachings, or these lessons, from this month to apply all year round?
Eastwood: I think, like I said, keeping the topic up, bringing the discussion to the forefront, never letting the conversation die down. You see that kind of thing on social media with hashtags, conversations that continue to happen, kind of always press forward. I think always posting about it, always talking to your friends about it. Continuing things like protests, continuing these conversations, these groups are sort of a good way to keep the conversation and that fire going.
Sagun: And what would you say are some other ways that we can help the Black community in any times of turmoil?
Eastwood: That’s a good question. I mean, aside from things like signing up for the GroupMe, paying it forward with kindness and things like that. You see social media and things like, what’s the platform called where you donate money again. I don’t know, I kind of forgot the name.
Sagun: Like GoFundMe?
Eastwood: Yeah GoFundMe, I know there are a lot of other efforts like that out there, you know that means you can help. Definitely do that. I know that’s not an option for everyone, so you know doing things like petitions and talking to congressional representatives. Going out to the political level I think is a really good way to try and help, you can kind of see it now where you see a lot of people going for things like that, political science where they hope to go to that national government level to kind of change things there too.
Sagun: And is there anything else you would like to add?
Eastwood: Just like I said, always keep that kind of conversation going. You see it a lot now, like I said on social media where people keep the conversation going. You have those that kind of educate about history so always try to be in the now and just keep talking to your friends about it.
Sagun: Well thank you so much Eastwood for coming to talk to me on our podcast. And I just want to really emphasize what you said and I think you brought up some really great points and I hope that we can all learn a lesson from what’s going on around us. So I think that’s all we have for today. Again, thank you Eastwood, thank you for joining me and I hope that everyone listening has a wonderful day. Bye!
Eastwood: Bye! Thank you guys so much.