Black students and alumni of Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda are sharing their experiences with racism while attending the school through the recently created Instagram account, “Black At Whitman.”
While the account’s creator remains anonymous, its first post was on June 14, just after racist graffiti was found on the school’s grounds and following weeks of protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks and Dominique Fells. The account’s first post states that “too many racial incidents” have occurred at Whitman High School.
“We have decided to come together to share our stories as a starting point for much needed, important conversations in the community, with the hope of producing change and providing support for the current and future Black students at Whitman,” wrote the account’s creator.
The account’s creator also suggested that Whitman High School’s attempts to combat racism have not been enough. According to the account, the predominately white high school has instituted “45 minute discussion-based classes aimed at promoting ‘inclusiveness and tolerance.'” However, the account’s creator claimed that neither the students nor the teachers take them “seriously.”
So far, the account has amassed close to 1,400 followers and has shared around 40 students’ and alumni’s stories. In a recent post, a current student wrote: “Although many students may not say or do explicitly racist things themselves, their failure to call out their friends or other students when they witness racial ‘jokes’ or using racial slurs is complicity and is unacceptable.” The account’s posts range from stories of personal experiences with racism to opinions on the school’s culture.
The account’s creator wrote that that the sharing of current and former students’ experiences is intended to “hold Whitman accountable for its wrongdoings against Black students and other students of color.” Overall, the hope seems to be that this account will unite students in “making Whitman a better place.”
The “Black At Whitman” account, however, is not unique. The New York Times reported that similar Instagram accounts have been created for high schools across the country, so that students and alumni may share their experiences. These accounts have become yet another way for people to call attention to the racism that persists throughout the country today.