Black Culture Society seeks to increase inclusivity


Parker Nolan

Seniors Siobhan Pitan, Kalu Nchege, and Kiersten Burno look to celebrate diversity as Black Culture Society leaders.

Nnenna Nchege, Staff Writer

New to campus this year, Black Culture Society was created for African-American students. The society will serve as a social area, a sounding board, and a safe place to have discussions, ask questions and receive feedback with an open mind. The society was established by African-American seniors Kiersten Burno, Kalu Nchege, and Siobhan Pitan and has 38 members and counting.

“Lovejoy is a predominately Caucasian school. We have very few minorities, and so we thought it would be a good idea for us to create a club where we could all come together,” Pitan said. “Sometimes when people are surrounded with others who don’t look or act like themselves they start to feel overwhelmed or less of themselves, and we started this club in hopes that people would stop feeling that way.”

Leadership teacher and cheer coach Jenay Sherman is the society’s sponsor. Sherman said she knows how it feels to be a member of an “underrepresented group” in a school setting because she was the only black student in her high school graduating class in Wyoming.

“Everyone needs to feel like they connect and fit in somewhere,” Sherman said. “Fulfilling that need can give students the confidence to become active and engaged in their school. I know groups like this often look segregatory on the surface, but the intent is to unify and represent. In fact, the group has rich diversity even within its ranks. The students will learn how to celebrate that diversity and build their own confident and appropriate voice when contributing to the school body.”

The group gathered for a bonfire as their first group outing on Oct. 21. They plan on meeting twice a month after school and hope to go on seasonal trips and host community events throughout the school year.

“We are planning on having a Black History Awareness Day during the month of February,” Burno said. “I also think that it would be fun to have recently college graduates come share their experiences and give life advice.”

According to Nchege and other members, the club has faced some backlash from faculty and students regarding the club’s motives, purpose, and the lack of diversity.

“We have already had a lot of comments saying that it is ‘racist’ for the school to have this club,” Burno said. “We are an all-inclusive club, but the purpose of the organization is for African American students to connect with each other.”

The founders said they hope the club sets a foundation for a new era in the community, and that their intent in creating this club was not to exclude anyone at school, but to celebrate minorities in an environment where their culture may not be fully acknowledged.

“We want this club to have an impact on the middle school, intermediate school, and even elementary school,” Pitan said. “We want this club to be something that the younger kids look forward to joining when they get to high school. We want this to be a club where the members don’t even think that they’re in a club, but that they’re part of a family where they can truly be themselves.”