Rainier Beach High School Students “Hunger for Justice”

by drea chicas

Rainier Beach students gather outside the school for a "chalk out." Photo Credit: drea chicas
Rainier Beach students gather outside the school for a “chalk out.” Photo Credit: drea chicas

When 25 Rainier Beach High School (RBHS) students, almost all young women, decided to walk-out on Monday supporting national walk outs in memory of Michael Brown, they made one thing clear: they are speaking up and we must hear them.

A freshman I spoke with proudly said this was her first time participating in a walkout. When asked what kind of future action she dreamed of for her school, she responded, “that teachers and staff and everybody would hold signs and speak up.” One community leader who walked out in solidarity with students added, “there were 25 of us today, imagine the power of being united as an entire school, unified in action and voice.”

This week, both the student and her leader will witness their dream unfold at RBHS. Starting Tuesday, organizers kicked off justice-driven actions and supported student-led initiatives. Through a weeklong campaign series called “My Life Matters,” organizers seek to “rally around and with our young people by engaging them in intentional activities and dialogue.” While the “My Life Matters” campaign has been prompted by the fate of Mike Brown, organizers recognize the urgency and opportunity to build solidarity and justice in the school’s community.

In the wake of the events in Ferguson, New York, and cities nationwide, schools are responding by putting together curricula, attempting to put Ferguson events in the context of racial oppression. With heavy hearts and emotions mixed, it’s hard to know where to begin. But leaders at RBHS are taking action, providing a creative model that educators across the city of Seattle and nation can follow. Not only are organizers creating safe zones to help students process their feelings, but the hope is to equip students with tools to create collective action to issues that affect young people locally. Violence is easy to perpetuate when people are not seen. In our society, the very existence of young people is considered a threat—the existence of young people of color, even more so. Ultimately, activities will create sacred space so young people, staff, faculty, and community members can truly see one another.

During breaks, lunch, and after school, young people will choose from a “menu” entitled, “hungry for justice.” Activities will range from chalk outs, healing circles, workshops on effective protesting, to story booths and a Justice Jam session. Activities will be led by community partners, faculty, and students and will be located in the school building. The week will culminate in an all school rally and protest on Friday. When young are given the space to speak, they take charge. Tuesday many students participated in chalk-outs and debrief circles. The Southend community is invited to witness and support students Wednesday – Friday.

If you are interested in getting involved at RBHS this week they are in need of 5 greeters per day.

Greeters will not only help inform students of the daily activities by passing out flyers, but greeters will also be key in hyping students up for these opportunities to seek justice.


You can sign up for the following time slots:
  • Lunch 11:40-12:10
  • After School 2:50-3:15
  • Lunch 11:40-12:10
  • After School 2:50-3:15
Yolanda Eng

or Laura Wright

drea chicas – who prefers her entire name appear in all lower case letters – lives, works and worships in South Seattle