Black Student Union fills big need at Casteel - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Black Student Union fills big need at Casteel

November 24th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
Black Student Union fills big need at Casteel
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Black Student Union fills big need at Casteel

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Sophomore Bryce Black said he was aware he is in the minority on the Casteel High School campus. He says it’s an unsettling feeling.

“You’re not comfortable being yourself, because you’re around people who are not like you,” Black said.

That was the motivation behind one of his football teammates stepping forward to start a Black Student Union at the Chandler Unified school in Queen Creek.

“There were a lot of Black students that didn’t feel comfortable,” sophomore Jaylen Jones said. “So, I wanted to make a group where they could come together, and we could also bring in other students of all races, all different religions.

“We could share and celebrate our differences.”

Bryce and Jaylen were freshmen when they began to pursue starting the club about a year ago during a pandemic.

“It was difficult to get students to come out to it, because of COVID, … they didn’t feel comfortable being in an enclosed space,” Jaylen said. “We had like 40 kids sign up by the end, just by lunch … It was insane. It was exciting.”

A year later the pair of running backs are seeing the success of their efforts. More than 60 students are members this year and the BSU held its first event recently with a group outing to Top Golf. They invited the Black Student Unions from other schools to join them.

But it wasn’t easy getting to that point. Jones said it was a tedious process to get the club up and running. And then once they started, there was some backlash when the club was just forming.

“There was a little in the beginning that Mr. [Principal Jason] Phillips managed really well,” said Rae Black, a Casteel teacher and a co-sponsor of the BSU. She’s also Bryce’s mother.

“It didn’t trickle down on me, it didn’t trickle down on the students. After he educated on what the club was on his campus, it wasn’t anything after that.”

Rae Black said that’s a major part of the club’s mission, to educate students.

It’s something that Malcolm Jones, the other co-sponsor for the Casteel club, said he missed when he was younger.

“BSU is something that I didn’t have the opportunity to do in high school,” said Malcolm Jones, who is also the school’s band director. “I think the fact that we’re doing it here at Casteel is really important.”

Rae Black said about 27 percent of Casteel’s more than 4,000 students are African American. That makes them the largest minority group on the campus, which includes 7th graders through high school.

She said they also hope to encourage other minorities to celebrate their cultures.

They already have a success story. A fellow teacher and a student saw the Black Student Union grow at Casteel from the start and it motivated them to start an Asian Pacific Islanders club.

“They were inspired by the BSU club,” Rae Black said. “We include them a lot, because they are learning and we’re already going.”

Jaylen says they discuss current events at the club’s weekly meetings. They also look to the future and talk about historically Black colleges and universities.

“I still feel like people try not to understand each other,” he said. “I believe racism has decreased incredibly compared to how it was, but I know there are still a lot of issues and still a lot of things that we want to eliminate by being so involved with the community.

“We want to have more events so they can learn more about us, and so they don’t get the wrong idea about the Black Student Union. We’re just a group that’s trying to have fun, trying to learn, trying to be better.”

Black Student Union fills big need at Caste=el

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