A rare necessity

A new district-backed student organization makes minority males a primary focus.


photo by Malcolm Robinson

English teacher Lydia Allen speaks to a student interested in her new initiative for minorities.

Malcolm Robinson, Staff Reporter

Racial conflicts are issues that the majority of America seeks to overcome. However, the occasional derogatory statement or offensive joke manages to seep into odd places.

For sophomore Thai’ler Perry, that place is the classroom.

Perry said that he has heard a barrage of racial slurs and slave references that invoke many feelings.

“I feel anger, annoyance and embarrassment. The one thing I don’t feel is laughter,” Perry said.

Issues like this that encouraged intervention from the higher level members of the school system. English teacher Lydia Allen has been working with assistant principal Michael Howard to introduce a program inspired by Seminole County Public School.

Allen and her coworkers focused primarily on males due to her feeling that they tend to be at more of a disadvantage than their female counterparts. The program, Young Men of Integrity, has a variety of goals planned.

“This initiative tries to provide a place for minority males to voice their concerns in a safe atmosphere,” Allen said.

Among the invited participants was sophomore Jeovani Overstreet, who appreciates the invention of a club to vent his frustration over discrimination.

“One time at 7-Eleven, a middle aged man who was a customer just like me began following me through the store and looking over to the store owners whenever I picked something up,” Overstreet said.

He said he would have considered ignoring the situation until the store owners themselves confronted the man for his behavior. Incidents like this led him to become more outspoken about perceived discrimination.

Allen envisions the program as a place for the people involved to do exactly what Overstreet seeks to do.

“Oftentimes, [male minorities] feel overlooked and as a result find themselves lost and aren’t sure where to go in a school setting. This initiative is going to deter that and help them find a voice,” Allen said.

At a meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 18, Howard expressed hope for the opportunity to take their members on fieldtrips to meet inspirational speakers. The program is still accepting members through Allen.