“The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones…”
“So let it be with Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau. The noble Boston Latin School and a sizable portion of its supporters hath told that those women were ambitious: If their allegations of racism were true, it was obviously a one time thing and grievously hath Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau worked to destroy the reputation of BLS. Here, lies the school standing in all of its glory for Boston Latin School is an honorable school”
The previous paragraph was a parody of sorts (if that is the right word) using a quote from Marc Antony’s famous speech that he made in the play Julius Caesar. In the speech, Marc Antony sarcastically refers to Brutus as an honorable man. The reason for this sarcasm is to expose how many people viewed the conspirators after they assassinated Julius Caesar. Many people came to the defense of Brutus saying that he was an honorable man and Julius Caesar was an evil man who sought to destroy the Roman Republic. I used this quote because, as @razzledazzle8 mentioned, many people were furious at Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau when, back in 2016, they uploaded a video onto Youtube detailing their experiences with Racism at Boston Latin School. I remember when the story first broke out back in 2016. My teacher had encouraged the class to look up the video on youtube, so that was what I did. I remember reading all the comments and seeing many people furious at the fact that the girls were willing to go pretty far to “destroy the reputation BLS had upheld for many years”. This wasn’t the only instance of people trying to use BLS’s reputation to disregard allegations. Ever since BLS has tried to improve diversity from within the school, parents have mentioned how it would blemish the reputation of Boston Latin School and that it would destroy its status as a rigorous school by not allowing for the best of the best to be a part of the school.
I believe the problem with BLS’s lack of diversity has more to do with a problem Boston, and by extension the United States, has been facing for quite some time. As Marc Antony has mentioned, “the evil that men do lives after them” meaning that the malicious acts that we commit are far more likely to have a profound effect on society than benevolent acts. In the case of Boston, the evil that is Racism has been lingering since the early days when the United States was still under the dominion of the British Crown. Back in those days, slavery was still legal and minorities that lived in the US were seen as “less than” when compared to white people. Long after the abolition of slavery, the racist mentally still clinged on to the minds of those who were there when slavery was still a thing. This would cause those in power to ensure that minority groups are not given the opportunities to succeed and economically thrive. We can see the effects of this today as many minority groups are economically not as prosperous as white people. As a result, it’s harder for parents of black and brown children to provide them with the resources necessary to allow them to do well on the ISEE and get into BLS. It also makes it harder for minorities to be admitted into private schools as it would be a major burden on their parents.
Another issue that faces Boston which has had an impact on BLS’s diversity has to do with many public schools in Boston. Prior to going to BLS I went to a middle school that, looking back at it, was almost the complete opposite of BLS. Unlike BLS, which is known for being one of the best schools in Boston, my old middle school was known for being one of the worst schools in Boston. It had some of the worst MCAS scores, it lacked proper funding, the school population was small, and it was nowhere near as challenging as BLS. If it weren’t for programs like Steppingstone, I doubt that I’d have the proper resources necessary to score high enough on the ISEE to get accepted into BLS. Even with Steppingstone, I found my transition to BLS to be a rough one as my old middle school did not prepare me for the amount of work I would be expected to do once I entered the 7th grade. The only similarity that my old middle school shared with BLS is that both schools had issues with diversity. In the case of BLS, there is a lack of Black and Latinx children. With my old middle school, there were barely any white and asian and 64% of the population was black. In a lot of BPS schools, more specifically schools where the majority of students come from a lower socioeconomic background, the schools are not challenging students as much making them less prepared for schools like BLS. The education gap between public and private schools is apparent and something needs to be done about this.
BLS’s lack of diversity plays a major role in the social climate that exists at the school. What happened to Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau is not new to minorities at the school. Given BLS’s previous attempts at making the school more diverse, it has likely led to many people today questioning whether some people truly deserve to come to this school. BLS’s environment is one where many kids who go to this school likely come from the same three or four neighborhoods. These neighborhoods, in question, house a population where the majority of people living there are either white or asian. When I moved from my old middle school to BLS, the idea of being at a place where not a lot of people looked like me was quite frightening. Still, I was able to find a lot of people who do look like me, and I was exposed to many different cultures. Why do I mention this? It is possible that this exposure to people with different backgrounds is what leads many to act out in a racist manner. A lot of teachers and faculty at this school were once students, and they grew up in a similar environment to the one BLS has today. This also probably plays a role in that teachers might not be so quick to recognize when acts of racism are being committed on school grounds. If I remember correctly, the two girls who started #BlackAtBLS mentioned in their video that the administration wouldn’t do anything about the allegations that were being brought to them.
As mentioned before, a lot of faculty members were once students at BLS and this likely has an impact on their views of the school. Today, BLS claims that it is doing everything it can to ensure the environment is safe, and that no student ever feels uncomfortable to be at the school. However, given my, as well as many other students’ experiences at this school, it doesn’t feel as though that is the case. Some students today argue that BLS is doing everything it can to hide allegations of racism under the rug so that they don’t have another #BlackAtBLS event. For example, I once reported an incident involving me and another student where a student had called me a racial slur. Originally, I decided against reporting it to the school arguing they won’t really do anything about it. After some convincing from my friends, I decided to report it to my guidance counselor. The following day, she pulled me out of class so that I could talk about the incident. The school had told me that they were going to set up a meeting with my parents and the parents of the kid who called me a racial slur. The school told me that they were going to take this incident seriously and they’ll update me and my parents about it. That was the last I heard from the school about that incident. For a while, I was left wondering if they even did anything about the incident, and if the other student involved was punished. It wasn’t until a few days later that I found out that the other student was in fact punished. Another student at the school, who was in one of my classes, told me that the kid who called me a racial slur was given one day of in-school suspension. What really angered me about this wasn’t the kind of punishment he received, even though I believed he deserved worse, but it was that neither me nor my parents were made aware about this. I had to find this information out from another student who happened to know the student that called me a racial slur. I had to tell my parents what happened to the kid since the school didn’t update them on the situation. The BLS administration wonders why not many kids come forward to report incidents such as the one that happened to me, but I think many students can see why.
What can BLS do in the future? If they actually took these events seriously, it could help out tremendously. They can’t simply hide things under the rug forever expecting them to go away. Someday, someone like Meggie Noel and Kylie Webster-Cazeau will have had enough with BLS and the way they’re handling incidents at the school. They’ll likely express their frustrations online where they’re more likely to be heard. I feel as though if and when that time comes, it might prove to be even worse for BLS than what happened back in 2016. Or perhaps I’m wrong and BLS will find a way to sweep that under the rug as well. Only time will tell.
Will trying to make BLS a more diverse place lead to its downfall, as some people fear? I believe that if BLS doesn’t do anything about its social climate, no amount of diversity will fix that and that may lead to the school’s downfall. For the sake of BLS, I hope those in charge realize what they’re doing wrong and they fix the issue before it is too late. Before a great light shines above the evil the roams the hallways to expose what BLS has been hiding.