Lincoln juniors create online platform for Black students


Armando Garcia

Junior Janiah Casey spent her summer protesting for the Black Lives Matter movement (read more here). When reflecting on the current election, Casey recognizes the impact that a Trump re-election could have on the BIPOC community. “But for me, I’m just nervous,” Casey reflects, “because either way, if Trump gets re-elected or if Biden wins this presidential election, [I think] the world is going to turn upside down … and most importantly, the BIPOC community will become a target no matter what. This is exactly why I am so concerned for my community and why this election affects my BIPOC group. We have to fight together, and do it as a whole.”

Many students throughout the city have been attending Black Lives Matter demonstrations, having conversations with family members, and donating to groups working towards racial justice. Two Lincoln students have found their own creative way to help work towards racial equity within the Lincoln community.

“Black at Lincoln” is a student-run Instagram account created by Juniors Janiah Casey and Rio Meyer and serves as a safe space for Black students to share their voices and their stories. Black students are encouraged to submit their stories anonymously through a link found in the account’s bio. 

“I guess you could say I’m both a [content curator] and the creator,” says Meyer about her role in the account. “I saw a lot of people doing similar accounts in NYC and was inspired to create one for Lincoln.”

Meyer knew that she could not take on a project like this on her own and immediately sought help. 

“I asked my friend Janiah, who is Black… if she thought it was a good idea and she said yes,” says Meyer. “Since I am white I did not want to have the main role in this account since it is an account for uplifting, educating and sharing information about the BLM movement.” 

Casey is an advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement and a youth leader for the Fridays4Freedom organization, a collective of Black youth and their allies “fighting for Black liberation,” according to their instagram. They hold youth-led marches every Friday across Portland.

“Growing up, I was always around people of color, so my transition to Lincoln was very hard. I had to learn how to adapt as best as I could,” says Casey. “I didn’t know who to talk to about why I felt so different.” 

Casey’s experiences within the Lincoln community prompted her to contribute to the account.

“What inspired me to contribute to this account was that I ethnically identify as African American. When I walk down the Lincoln halls, there aren’t many other students that look like me,” says Casey. “The account is a place for us to vent and talk about our experience at a non-diverse school. I have one goal and that is to allow Black students to let their voices be heard. I will not continue to feel silenced anymore.”

Currently, there is a video of Casey posted on the account where she openly addresses her peers about some of the racial issues within the Lincoln community.

The video is captioned with a powerful message. 

“Understand that Black people have to fight everyday to be treated as decent human beings. You white people will never understand what it’s like to be Black until you step into our shoes and understand what it’s like to try to prove that in this day and age we feel degraded and oppressed by the law enforcement. It’s far from fair and equal.”

Casey’s video has over 2,000 views.

“We all know that racism is a pandemic,” says Casey in the video. “We are the next generation and it is our job to fight for change.”  

As of Sept. 28, “Black at Lincoln” has 234 followers but Meyer and Casey have hopes of growing the account and expanding their platform.

“Right now our Instagram account is the only platform the account is available on,” says Meyer. “I don’t know how well this account would do on other platforms but it may expand. There are some ideas going on.” 

Casey and Meyer hope that their account makes an impact and that they are able to reach members all across the Lincoln community including parents, teachers, staff, students and family members. 

“I think that change happens first in our direct communities so I really hope that we continue to use the account to encourage all the right conversations here at Lincoln,” says Meyer. 

While Casey and Meyer want to accomplish real change with this account, Meyer reminds us that the fight is far from finished. 

“Black Lives Matter is not just a 2020 issue. Black lives have and will always matter no matter what. Until there is justice and a change in society where BIPOC do not feel scared to walk in the streets and have the exact same rights as any other person then we will continue to use and hopefully expand our platform.”