News Analysis: Silent Protest Against Derogatory Language Sends a Message Focused on Change

By Zander E Sargeant

Léman Students Lining the Hall In Silent ProtestLili Sposato
In a powerful display of advocacy, students at Léman Manhattan came together on Monday, February 12, 2024, in a silent protest organized by the Black Student Union (BSU) to denounce the use of slurs and derogatory language against minorities within the school community.
Led by Samirah Horton, Aida de Souza-Nainduillet, and Amy Diallo, prominent leaders within BSU, their voices were heard not just through the hallways, but in ways which resonated throughout the school community.
At approximately 10:30 AM, following advisory, students from grades 9 through 12 assembled in the 19th-floor hallways, armed with posters bearing symbolic representations of moments filled with derogatory language. Throughout the hallways, there was a shared unity as several other students reflected on times that they faced some sort of discrimination.
“I hope people are aware that this isn’t the first time that this has happened in this school,” someone said anonymously during the protest. “It has just gotten to the point where we are tired of seeing our school fall in such a bad direction. I’ve personally had someone call me the n-word before and nothing happened to them. I think over time we’ve gotten so comfortable with the use of it that we now look ‘soft’ when we call someone out for using it. It’s time for this to stop.”
The protest first commenced with anticipation as Samirah’s strong and resilient voice addressed the gathered crowd with her microphone held steadily, declaring, "We are tired of there being no repercussions for these actions!" Her words echoed down the hallways, carrying the weight of shared frustration.
For roughly five minutes, Samirah's impassioned speech served as the words that many of us have thought for so long. Her words resonated deeply with many, echoing the sentiments of those who have long felt marginalized and overlooked within this school. “Last week, I had someone call me the n-word, and that's when it hit me that this is a big issue in this school,” said Samirah during the protest.
As the speech concluded, a brief moment of silence was called upon the hallways, punctuated only by the shuffling of feet and the occasional rustle of posters. Heads bowed in solidarity and students stood shoulder to shoulder as a form of a silent protest. This silent protest was reminiscent of the 1917 Silent Protest in New York City, which highlighted the power of collaborative action and how silence can speak volumes when enough people, victims or not, come together.
Remarkably, the spirit of the protest transcended the student body, with even the Head of School joining the demonstrators, a symbolic gesture of support. Just minutes after the protest, Dr.L and Ms.Castelluccio shared their opinion on the protest. Dr L, stated, “Thank you for planning and organizing a thoughtful protest. The 7-minute silence spoke volumes, and all your words were heartfelt and needed to be shared with everyone.” Ms.Castelluccio followed up, saying, “Your message was powerful and your demands are on point and extremely necessary. Please know that we have heard you and will work with you to make the changes that must be made in our community.”
In the annals of Leman Manhattan's history, February 12, 2024, will be remembered as more than a mere protest; it will stand as a testament to the strength of the student body when action is taken to resolve an issue. It must be remembered that this protest was not an attack on the school’s character, but an initiative to make Léman Manhattan a safer learning environment.