New clubs are stirring tensions

Navigating the messy reality of performative activism and high school competition

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The account @langleyhsunited, uses satire to mock those who form clubs to put on college applications (Photo by Sherry).

Colleen Sherry, Editor-of-Online

Repost. Shoutout. Tag three friends. Like and follow. Social media platforms such as Instagram have revolutionized modern activism, enabling teens quick and easy access to information regarding current affairs. However, when projecting information becomes almost second-nature–and teens are habitually placed in high-stress environments with pressure to succeed not only academically but service-wise as well–the result can be far from the actual goal of intended activists. Members of the Langley community (a notoriously competitive environment) have recently raised concerns regarding whether the actions, posts, and initiatives they see on students’ social media are actually beneficial, or rather a facade to impress college admissions offices.

With the ongoing George Floyd protests across the country, several Langley students have stepped up to create initiatives targeted towards advocating for racial justice and fighting discrimination within the Langley community: the Students of Color Alliance, Break the Bubble, and Human Rights Club. But in the wake of these groups, students have also created two factitious accounts focused on satirizing the “[interest] in being president/vice president/secretary of a club versus helping the problem,” as one anonymous account–@langleyhsunited–said. The other account, @langleycrdmicrb, intends to “[accomplish] everything a club can do at Langley;” both accounts express annoyance at the apparent motivation behind the new clubs, and called into question the overall issues with performative activism, college admission toxicity, and high school competition.

After racist comments by a freshman were revealed on Twitter, resulting in Langley attracting severe backlash on social media, junior Fay Shuai created the Langley Students of Color Alliance (SOCA).

“It’s important that we have a completely student led organization that ambitiously advocates for what’s right,” said the club’s mission statement on Instagram. SOCA went on to host a students-only online forum to discuss policy proposals, SR&R, and potential curriculum changes related to race. Additionally, SOCA eliminated the traditional hierarchy of president, vice president, etc. in favor of cultivating a more equal platform for student voices.

“Everyone on the executive management has all experienced some form of extreme racism…We have black, Middle Eastern, Asian, and white representation on the board to ensure that most all races are represented equally,” SOCA stated.

Following the town hall hosted in hopes of addressing racial discrimination in the Langley student body, two more clubs were created–Break the Bubble (BTB) and Human Rights Club (HRC)–by sophomores McKenzie Hiek and Will Navas and freshmen Maria Kim and Ava Nash, respectively. BTB states the club wants to “promote a healthy and accepting environment,” and listed activities that includes guest speakers, leadership skills, seminars, discussions, and documentary screenings. HRC’s mission statement is similar yet touches more upon global human rights, saying they wish to “promote fundamental human rights at Langley, our community, and in the world,” and lists specific organizations they plan to pull speakers from as well as protests, marches, and fundraisers that can be utilized to raise money and awareness.

“We hope to address human rights as a whole, rather than focusing on one single issue in our society by uniting the Langley community and truly starting conversation about subjects such as these,” Nash said. “We noticed that racism is not the only issue here at Langley, we saw that there are issues such as homophobia, xenophobia, and misogyny as well,” Kim said.

“Although there may be one, two, or even three clubs, we all have a common goal to change Langley even if we do it in our ways,” Hiek said.

@langleyhsunited views the new clubs through a different lens–firmly maintaining that students are simply copying and pasting the same ideas into new clubs to gain leadership positions; and some outside students are beginning to agree.

“Most of these clubs haven’t even been approved yet, so it seems like there might be ulterior motives at play,” one junior said.

“I’m not opposed to the idea of creating ONE club at Langley, it could possibly be helpful especially if the club is in communication with Ms. Greer and can represent students of color. However, that is not the approach these clubs are taking. The fact that these clubs are competing over when they were established and who can post the most…is comical and discredits the entire purpose of the club,” @langleyhsunited said.

The clubs have been intermittently sparring through Instagram DMs and story posts on the club pages, and other students seem to have taken notice.

“The infighting between organizations created in the past few weeks is humorous at best and destructive to the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) at worst. It is obvious to an outside viewer that the combination of all of the group’s members would be far more beneficial towards creating a meaningful change at Langley, yet we all know it would never happen as there would be less officer positions,” one junior said.

Some students even went as far as to critique the lack of black involvement in the clubs.

The concept of performative activism has been gaining attention recently, as trends such as #blackouttuesday have been flooding social media pages and calling into question the true intentions of teens attempting to create awareness. While both the new clubs and satire accounts maintain their messages to world, it cannot go without saying that Langley is an incredibly competitive environment and college admissions seem to be as paramount as ever; for students to create clubs simply to put leadership positions on a resume is not unheard of. However, this does not mean that all groups are like this.

Regardless of whether these clubs were formed out of sincerity or ulterior motives, it is clear that racial discrimination is gaining much-needed attention at an academic level, as well as students becoming aware of the technicalities when it comes to a competitive school like Langley.

If you wish to follow any of the clubs, do so below:

Break the Bubble: www.instagram.com/langley_btb/

Human Rights Club: www.instagram.com/saxonhrc/

Students of Color Alliance: www.instagram.com/lhsstudentsofcoloralliance/

Langley CRDMICRB: www.instagram.com/langleycrdmicrb/

Langley United: www.instagram.com/langleyhsunited/