In an effort to create solidarity and highlight a thread of shared experiences, several minority students at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School in Maryland released a video in February entitled, "I, Too, Am B-CC." The video details their plight as students of color at a majority white high school.
"I, Too, Am B-CC," was produced and directed by two of B-CC's very own, seniors Makdes Hailu and Orlando Pinter. Currently, the video has over 18,000 views on YouTube and has sparked conversation within the B-CC community and across the nation.
"Growing up, I felt like I had to look like the white man, dress like the white man, talk like a white man in order to be seen on the same level as the other white kids and now I'm in a situation where I really don't know... what am I?," Sisan Dorsu says in the video. With tears streaming down her face, she discusses in great detail her struggles with self identity, burdened with the pressure to fit in.
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"It's just so hard for black students because we have to go the extra step to prove that we are all on the same level."
"I, Too, Am B-CC," is a continuum of, "I, Too, Am Harvard," a project started by a group of minority students at the Ivy League. Minority students at predominantly white institutions across the country have used the "I, Too," platform to discuss the micro-aggression's they've experienced as students of color.
Yannick Alexis details an incident where another student questioned his academic record. Alexis recalls his peer saying to him, "You don't look like you get straight A's."
“It is their truth and they have been brave enough to say it," said B-CC principal, Karen Lockard, in an interview with NBC News. She has been principal since 2008 and has strong ties to the community, as her two children also graduated from B-CC.
Lockard says that Pinter approached her with the idea for the video over a year ago. "I think this kind of film and conversation is very timely," Lockard said. "I’m so proud of them because they took a big chance in putting really important issues out in the public and they were aware that some of the issues could be controversial."
Since the video's release, teachers and students at B-CC have used it as a tool to discuss racism and harmful perceptions of minorities. Over 30 classrooms have held forums around the themes in the video.
B-CC is located in Montgomery County, Maryland and according to latest US Census figures, the area is 47 percent white. Blacks make up 18.6 percent, Hispanics are the third largest group at 18.3 percent. Asians are 14.9 percent of the population.
The Washington Post writes that B-CC is a high-level performing high school with 2,000 students. 58 percent are white, 17 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent are black and 6 percent are Asian.
Lockard says the film has received positive feedback from the community and local administrators. More importantly, it has impacted the students profiled in the video, giving them a renewed sense of empowerment, "It’s made them very proud,” she said.