Boston Latin activists rip #WeAreBLS movement

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BOSTON — Student activists at Boston Latin School, the embattled prestigious exam school that’s already seen two top administrators leave in response to allegations the institution is rife with racism, appear to be at odds with a new movement aimed at creating an atmosphere of unity at the school.

The activists, members of the organization dubbed BLS B.L.A.C.K., (Black Leaders Aspiring for Change and Knowledge), utilized social media platforms this past school year to rally the public and various local news outlets to their cause, which appeared bent on exposing a racial divide between administrators and the student body. Last week’s resignations of Headmaster Lynne Mooney Teta and Assistant Headmaster Malcolm Flynn prompted an outcry from faculty members and a swath of parents who alleged that outside groups has unjustly made scapegoats out of Teta and Flynn.

On Monday Superintendent of Schools Tommy Chang and Mayor Marty Walsh announced that a former superintendent and head of Boston Latin, Michael Contompasis, will lead the school on an interim basis until a full-time replacement is found.

The BLS B.L.A.C.K. movement picked up steam this past year thanks in part to a series of viral videos alleging that administrators had dismissed issues of racial injustice and the use of the Twitter hashtag #BlackAtBLS.

Recently, another hashtag (#WeAreBLS) has surfaced on social media. It has not been received well by student activists, who allege that the #WeAreBLS cry has trivialized their work:

Some students mocked the hashtag: 

BLS B.L.A.C.K., Kylie Webster Cazeau analogized the #WeAreBLS rallying cry to the #AllLivesMatter expression that surfaced once the #BlackLivesMatter movement took hold:

Over the past year teachers and administrators have been largely silent. The resignations of Teta and Flynn, however, appear to have led some to speak up. Boston Latin teacher Catherine Foley was one of several who took to social media recently to point out that school officials did, indeed, took allegations of racism seriously, as indicated by their willingness to host a series of workshops on racism and their commitment to revising curriculum to accommodate the concerns of minority students:

Within the last week, #WeAreBLS backers launched their own Facebook page. The page features updates detailing what has been happening at the school, including announcements of Contompasis’s appointment.

Page creator, Chris Lang of Roslindale, recently posted a note thanking parents and others for their support:

“In this past week, #WeAreBLS has turned into a vibrant and engaged page with over 1700 likes, and contributions from all sides have made it extremely informative for all of us. I’d just remind everyone once again to please keep the discourse civil and respectful. We all want what’s best for our kids, and personal attacks on individuals or groups will not help us solve issues. Thanks again.”

Nevertheless, BLS B.L.A.C.K. activists allege that #WeAreBLS backers promote “white supremacy”:

“I guess we file this Twitter post in the “no good deed goes unpunished” category,” Lang posted in response via the WeAreBLS Facebook page.

“I hope others see some value in having this open forum, even if we don’t agree on everything.”