Students work hard to increase multicultural education

Black Student Union invited Guinean music and dance group to give a performance


Emma Steinburg

Assistant Principal David Fort (left) and Coach Malik Prince (right) open the MLK jr assembly put on by BSU in the main gym.

Olivia Shaer and Alina Zahn, Staff Reporters

Standing up for racial equity is not only important, but also highly relevant in Ballard. Black Student Union is a key piece of the puzzle to creating safe spaces and standing up against injustice. 

Black Student Union meets every Thursday in room S217 at 12:10 during lunch. BSU welcomes all students to come and partake in important conversations about race. Through Powerpoints, videos, movies and group discussions BSU works to create a safe space for all students.

Coach Malik Prince, the proud advisor of BSU, shared the clubs plans surrounding the MLK weekend and Black history month. He felt it relevant to disclose the importance of the assembly on Friday, Jan. 13.

“Because we haven’t been able to have an MLK assembly in several years, it is important to go all out. The goal of the assembly is to bridge the gap between all cultures, not just Black,” Prince said. 

The recognition of MLK day will not end with the assembly. 

“Throughout the rest of the day a miniature Powerpoint  [was] shown [during classes], highlighting unsung heroes and Seattleites,” Prince said.

During the assembly we witnessed an instrumental performance of “Lift every voice and sing”, by the orchestra, and a series of short, accompanied dance sequences by the South Seattle Based group, Adefuye African Music and Dance Academy, from Conakry, Guinea.

My main goals are to create a safe space, help [BSU] become and remain student-sustainable and to advance and share understanding.

— Malik Prince

The Adefua Music and Dance Academy from Conakry, Guinea performed at the assembly, even teaching the school the famous “Funga Alafia” song. (Emma Steinburg)

They shared several everyday sayings and dances, in order to help create a unified experience and to truly understand the importance of just some of the Black culture that is constantly around.

Prince understands the relevance of BSU especially in regards to recent incidents of student hate speech and feels that he and the student leaders want to work towards advancing the space they have built.

“My main goals are to create a safe space, help the group become and remain student-sustainable, and not only advance our understanding but to share understanding,” Prince said. 

For the duration of Black history month there will be a Black celebration series in the library, likely occurring once a week. 

“We will invite Black members of our Seattle community, who will discuss their career and how they got to where they are today,” Prince said. “These talks will be accessible to anyone willing to listen.” 

In regards to the hate speech recently shared and discussed on campus, Prince felt it was valuable to have a moment to talk about it with the Black Student Union. Prince, BSU co-presidents and the rest of the students in attendance compiled a list of concepts to think about when dealing with issues like these.

“Personally I believe that change starts in the home and within yourself. For those who don’t go out and learn something new they will never break the cycle,” Prince said. “At the end of the day it’s all about optics and we have to change the narrative. We have to grow with love and empathy.”

BSU Co-president Shea Deskins, who works alongside Coach Prince, appointed Prince at the beginning of the year to be the club’s advisor. 

At the end of the assembly, BSU was invited to dance with the Adefua to Guinean beats. (Emma Steinburg)

”He’s one of the only staff members that is a person of color, so for students of color he is a reliable and safe adult to talk to at school,” Deskins said.

Deskins shares many of the same ideas that Prince does on creating a safe and respectful school community. 

“Our main focus is to continue to have Ballard move forward as a school through honor, respect, and love,” Deskins said. 

Deskins, who has dedicated her senior year to being the co-president, wants to make a lasting impact and make sure BSU continues to create important change at Ballard.

“I want to be a role model for future students here, especially ones who decide to join BSU,” Deskins said. 

Overall, Deskins’ goal is to continue to raise awareness and to continue making sure students gain knowledge on the Black Experience. 

“BSU will continue to always push us forward into a more positive direction,” Deskins said.