By Jacob Wheeler, Edited by Mira Zimmerman
Photos by Kimo Fong
Cries of outrage rung through the halls of Forest Grove High School on the 17th of May. A “Build A Wall” banner was hung in the commons by two freshmen, and the offensive implications of those three words sparked a school wide walkout the following day. The school administration was supportive of the student protest which progressed down main street with local police directing traffic to keep protesters safe. On May 21, I interviewed the organizer of the FGHS Walkout against racism, Eddie Bolaños. Wednesday night, after the banner was put up, Bolaños was attending a movie at the Centro Cultural in Cornelius. He approached several students and spoke to them about staging a walkout, but the students were afraid of repercussions or punishment. Bolaños then spoke to their parents, who quickly became on board with his idea, and shortly after, the students became comfortable with it, and they made a plan of action. That night they made a social media posts and the wheels were set in motion. Many people were uneasy about the walkout at first, but on Thursday, as more and more students started to leave the school, everyone had renewed confidence.
As of May 21, 2016 the Forest Grove High School walkout has been supported by 20 educational institutions, received national media attention, and even received attention from the US Attorney General and from the Secretary of Education.
People commonly have the misconception that migrant workers “come to America and steal our money and jobs”, and use that as a basis for their racism. The truth is, it is actually quite the opposite. Illegal immigrants largely pay their taxes, and receive no taxpayer benefits. They do not receive welfare or food stamps or other benefits that come with being a taxpayer. Immigrants, illegal or not, have actually benefited the American economy for hundreds of years. Immigrants often work under the table on farms and factories; and they work for much less than minimum wage. It is safe to say that throughout history, large economies have been propped up by exploitable, cheap, or free labor, and the US is no different. The unfortunate truth is that the U.S. government and its consumers actually make revenue off the backs of illegal and legal immigrant workers.
It is vital to understand that this is a movement for the students of Forest Grove High, and students elsewhere, and it isn’t about politics. It is about bringing change to the lives of those who have been suppressed and shut off for no other reason than that they are different. In the meantime, the discussions about why we divide ourselves in society needs to continue in our classrooms, hallways, sidewalks and living rooms. You can follow the movement or join in on most social media platforms under the name “United We Stand”. Any information about rallies will be posted there.