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'Without our Black community, we are no community, and we must educate ourselves and make our support heard.'

COURTESY PHOTO - Vicki Siah, right, with Beaverton School District Superintendent Don Grotting.It suffices to say that 2020 is one of the most tumultuous years in post-2000s America. Global tensions, the COVID-19 shutdowns, xenophobia, a history of police brutality and ongoing protests have left our community fighting for a future where all people have equal rights.

In the middle of our struggles, we must look back at the fabric of our neighborhoods, organizations, and businesses. We must reflect upon the links we share as residents of this city, and when we do so, we will realize that in 2020, we have come together as a community. As long as there is an opportunity for residents to make a difference — as long as injustices prevail against the underprivileged and the systematically oppressed — Beaverton will continue to pave the way in compassion and morality.

Because we are Oregonians, we help others, and even in the darkest of times, I see this firsthand.

In the middle of COVID-19 shutdowns, I worked with the American Red Cross to close the national blood shortage by coordinating a Beaverton blood drive. I started with a goal of 30 donor sign-ups. In days, the number of sign ups nearly doubled the goal to the overwhelming maximum of 51 donors. Despite the national fear, 51 Oregonians volunteered to give their life-sustaining blood to people in desperate need.

Alongside business owners, essential workers, and many others, Beaverton School District Superintendent Don Grotting donated. This drive received an outpouring of support from BSD, and as a Westview rising senior, the generosity and kindness that our leadership in education showed made me proud to be a student in the Beaverton community. Their benevolence was reflected in the circles of individual schools; many of my Westview and Rock Creek teachers came to give blood, as well as my fellow students.

Even after the drive, our community continues to strive for positive change: I am honored to have inspired some of my BSD teachers in encouraging their students to close the national blood shortage.

"Saving lives" carries significant weight. In the face of necessity, that is exactly what the Beaverton community united to do.

Blood donation is not the only endeavor that Beaverton residents have contributed to. Throughout the COVID-19 shutdowns, our community provided food, supplies, masks, and financial aid to thousands across the nation. We have supported one another, even when six feet apart.

I know that Beaverton can bring the same cohesion in a stand against racism and anti-Black violence, because Black lives matter and it cannot be said enough. Without our Black community, we are no community, and we must educate ourselves and make our support heard. Read books, speak out, donate, and partake in conversations on race, discrimination, and violence — it is not a choice, but a necessity for a cohesive society.

In a statement on racial equality, Superintendent Grotting and the BSD school board phrases this succinctly: "This is not a privilege, it is a right, a right people of color continue to be denied."

In a pandemic, we stand in solidarity. We can — and must — preserve that unification to eliminate the anti-Black racism that is rooted in America.

Vicky Siah is a rising senior at Westview High School and the president of Westview Red Cross Club. She is Malaysian American.


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