Student activist group works for unity

Lilly Griffiths, Features Editor

The Union for the Negation of Injustice and Tyranny or UNIT is an Arlington-based youth activist group working to improve the quality of education and overall experiences for marginalized students. 

Along with the Black Lives Matter movements, the idea of UNIT started around the end of May by a couple of recently graduated Martin alumni. Not only do they speak about current issues in our society today, but they also speak out about how we can address them in our everyday lives.

A member of the activist group spoke out about what he had experienced and how he could advocate for equality through UNIT. 

I had experienced small racial microaggressions in high school but never knew there was an umbrella term for it,” member Hayden James said. “That was a big one some people in UNIT brought up that opened my eyes a bit.”

They’re not only advocating for the black community, but also the LGBTQ+ community and anyone who faces persecution because of their identity. This can be seen in their Instagram (@unit.atx) infographics and how they’re reaching out to students to see how they may have been affected simply based on some of their characteristics. 

“We are constantly seeing what kind of information we want to put out and we like to cover topics that are currently happening,” another student in the youth-led group,  2019 graduate Fife Bodunrin said. “We are also always working on what we can do virtually because we are  aware of the amount of people we can reach online.”

In August there was a new chain of posts about the use of racial slurs in high schools today, some of which include, “Go back to Africa,” and, “You’re so exotic.”

“Although these terms are very harsh,” junior Selah Jones said, “it was somewhat comforting to know that others have had similar experiences with racism and prejudice as I have.”

Over time UNIT branched out and started talking about the defunding of the Arlington Police Department. They posted very educational infographics for why and how the city could move towards managing the police brutality that is going on today. One of the main ideas they posted about was what the police departments training hours looked like, and how that could’ve provoked the unnecessary amounts of force being used against innocent people. 

On the subject  of what UNIT does to bring topics to light, Jones added that, “UNIT also aims to raise awareness, raise funds, and help educate in order to create a more conducive educational and social experience for every ethnicity and culture.”

Recently, UNIT has started a second Instagram page (@unitactivist). This account is for ongoing discussions and connections with their followers. They had their first official Zoom discussion Aug. 14. 

“It’s easy to ask for kids to be kind and compassionate, but what really takes grit is sitting through the hard stuff and learning about discrimination and racial divides,” James said.

UNIT’S overall message is to create equity and access in educational resources and increase the overall quality for underrepresented students across Arlington schools. 

There aren’t many students who would put their time into an activist group and voice their opinions and that’s the beauty of UNIT. 

“I’m excited to see the change we can create in our community,” James said. “And that change doesn’t just start and stop with one group, it keeps going and growing step by step.”