Sydnee M. Crawford, a junior at Rancho Cucamonga High School, has long had a passion and commitment for doing community work, beginning with her volunteer efforts as a young child helping the homeless. So when Sydnee was not selected for a position on the RCHS Associated Student Body (“ASB”) last semester, she was disappointed, but nevertheless remained resolute about her desire to make campus change and be heard. Sydnee, who is considering attending college at either UCLA or NYU to become either an orthodontist or cosmetic surgeon, performed her own self-assessment about the students who had made the ASB cut instead of her. What Sydnee discovered was both interesting and illuminating.
“When I looked closer at who was accepted,” Sydnee said, “I noticed that the majority of the people [accepted into the ASB] were Caucasian students.”
Undeterred by this reality, Sydnee decided that it was time to take action. “I had a talk with my brother,” Sydnee explained, “and I came to the conclusion that it was time for a change, time for me to step out of my comfort zone, and stand up for my culture.”
Sydnee began the process of creating her own student club. “I started by writing a letter to the schools’ activity office to let them know what I planned on doing and why I wanted to pursue what I wanted,” she explained. “A couple weeks later, I got word back that my club was accepted! I automatically became overwhelmed with happiness and relief.”
Sydnee’s efforts led to the formation of the Black-Associated Student Body, also known as the B-ASB, and now boasts approximately 20 members. Taking the helm as CEO and President, the B-ASB is Sydnee’s first venture in an official leadership position. In addition to other key members who are committed to making the B-ASB successful, the group’s current B-ASB officers, besides Sydnee, are: Trinity Carver, Vice President and RCHS Senior; and, Kennedy Vance, Secretary and RCHS Junior. Sydnee states that the newly formed campus group is committed to creating change at RCHS.
B-ASB’s campus advisor and RCHS teacher, Dr. Erikca Brown, explained that the “B-ASB is important because it gives our students a place where they belong and can be unapologetically, authentically and openly themselves.” Dr. Brown said that her primary role as an advisor to the club is to “provide support, give advice and most importantly, provide a space where Black students have a voice and feel that they belong.”
For students who are on the fence about joining B-ASB or who may not see the necessity of the club given the existence of the ASB or the Black Student Union, interested students should consider the B-ASB’s mission, which has a particular and much needed purpose at RCHS. “BSU is an amazing club that historically provides support to Black students,” explained Dr. Brown. “But B-ASB, was meant to challenge the status quo by redefining what it means to belong by shedding this idea that you have to fit a certain mold in order to be accepted.” In fact, the hopes and goals for the B-ASB for this year are to establish a strong community, attain acknowledgement and getting “a seat at [the RCHS] table,” said Dr. Brown.
While B-ASB is about that business, the group also understands the critical importance of self-care and Black joy. Last weekend for one such example, “all club members were sponsored with a free ticket to Knott’s Scary Farm,” said Sydnee. B-ASB also created fire t-shirts for its members which further establishes a sense of group camaraderie.
B-ASB meetings are held in Dr. Brown’s classroom, which is Room F103, and take place every other Tuesday during the first lunch which is at 10:47 am. Students who have second lunch should contact B-ASB officers Sydnee M. Crawford, Trinity Carver or Kennedy Vance, as well as any other B-ASB members directly. Students can get more details about the B-ASB mission and events during these on campus meetings, where, according to Sydnee, club matters and future events are discussed. These include the club’s immediate plans to “feed the less fortunate, gather toys and donate them to parents who can’t afford gifts for their children.”
Ultimately, the B-ASB embodies the African and African American principals of umoja, which means unity in Kiswahili. “My plan is to empower all Black students and just come together as a whole,” Sydnee explains. “I also wanted to be noticed, [and] I want us BLACK students to be heard!