8. LaShaiah Dickerson: Let discomfort be your guide — and a goad to action.
A big mistake that I made when I got into high school was that I waited until I felt comfortable enough before I got involved. But I feel like once you dive in, when you’re the most uncomfortable, that’s when you can start navigating your way through.
I spoke with LaShaiah Dickerson in 2019, well before the coronavirus upended our lives and one year prior to the brutal murder of George Floyd, which ignited the largest racial justice protests in the United States since the civil rights movement and sparked a global reckoning with racism. At the time, she was a senior at Edmonds-Woodway High School, catalyzing her own local reckoning with racism. She noticed that the casual use of the N word was normalized at the school — and nobody was saying or doing anything about it.
Dickerson overcame an initial reluctance to get involved and joined the school’s Black Student Union. Her active involvement on the BSU leadership council helped revitalize and galvanize the group to dramatically alter the climate of the school through organized cultural events and presentations. The group also led a successful petition process to augment the curriculum with the addition of an ethnic studies course. Dickerson is now attending Western Washington University and is active in the university’s Black Student Union.