Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, Blogger, Speaker

Chibok Girl Found

Chibok Girl Found

The New York Times said in a front page article in a late edition today that a Chibok girl, one of those kidnapped over two years ago, was found.

Students playing role of a Chibok girl

Drama about Chibok Girls in a Nigerian school. NYTimes has a photo of Chibok girl found today.

According to the NYTimes, “‘The girl, Amina Ali, was wandering in the forest when members of a vigilante group lying in wait to ambush a Boko Haram camp came across her,’ said Aboku Gaji, a local vigilante commander.”

I also heard the news on NPR in the middle of the day.

She was taken to Chibok where relatives identified her, the article said.

She was with a man first identified as her husband.

“But in a news release late Wednesday, the military said the man was in fact a suspected Boko Haram terrorist who claimed to be the girl’s husband. The release described Ms. Ali as a nursing mother with a 4-month-old baby, a girl named Safiya.”

She said the other girls were still being held, but six had died.

Can you imagine how other families must feel tonight? Every parent of every Chibok girl must be wondering whose daughter has died, when and if their own daughter will be found, and whether she will have a baby with her.

Making Sense of Race 

Marpe, Bailey, and 3rd prize winner

Ali Tritschler, 3rd prize winner, with TEAM Chair Harold Bailey and First Selectman Jim Marpe

TEAM Westport Annual Essay Contest winners were honored at an awards ceremony at Westport Library on Monday afternoon.

First prize and $1000 went to Jacob Klegar for his essay, “The Black Lives Movement: Past, Present, and Future.” He was also the first prize winner last year!

Second prize was won by Ellie Shapiro, who earned $750. Her essay is called, “Coming to Terms With Race in America.” Third prize winner was Ali Tritschler who won $500. She titled her essay “Awareness.”

The question we posed to the teenagers: “In the past year a troubling number of highly charged and tragic incidents – from Ferguson to Charleston to Chicago – have prompted public discussions and protests on college campuses about the state of race relations in the U.S. . .  In 1,000 words or less, describe how you, personally, make sense of the events that have occurred.”

Dan Woog wrote about the awards ceremony in his 06880 blog. He also kindly posted the complete first prize essay with his article. I encourage you to take a look.

WestportNow also published a story about the awards ceremony with extensive quotes from each winner’s work.

Ali, who is a senior at Greens Farms Academy, said, “I spent . . . my junior year catching up with the world. . . I learned about Dillon Taylor, Levar Jones, and Tamir Rice. Eace death was harder for me to understand.”

She relates how she dedicated herself to keeping up with the news. She came to see that “knowing what was happening was almost as important as why.”

She concludes by saying, “I hope to one day understand these situations better, but more importantly, I know I will fight against these events happening in the future.”

Harold Bailey, 3 winners, and Jim Marpe

Ellie, 2nd prize winner, in center with other winners and prize presenters

Second Prize winner Ellie is a junior at Staples, the public high school in Westport.

She acknowledges her disconnect from the tragic events of the past year – she is not nearby, she views them from the comfort of her home, and she has not experienced anything comparable.

“The truth of the matter is that I am white and in addition to the previous reasons, my being white adds a whole other dimension to my disconnect. I am living in an affluent town, sheltered from the harsh realities of race tensions. . . naturally privileged due to race.”

She describes reading “Dear White America,” by George Yancy in The New York Times, and coming to realize that passivity on the part of white Americans is a form of racism.

She says, “I feel as though in the last few months I have come closer to my contribution to the problem than many other white Americans ever will. I may never be able to shed my inherent racism, but by acknowledging and accepting it, I can start to combat it.” Good for her!

1st prize winner - twice!

Jacob Klegar won first prize, 2nd year in a row!

Jacob, a senior at Choate Rosemary Hall who is headed to Harvard in the fall, said, “I support the Black Lives Matter movement and all they have done to bring attention to police brutality and other forms of racial injustice. But I believe it is time for a shift in goals. . . it is now time to solve the problems through legislation.”

He ended his essay with, “The events that have occurred reflect poorly on our country, and they require major changes to correct them. The people are prepared – now is the time to combat racism head-on.”

Several people commented after hearing the essays that Obama’s commencement speeches at Rutgers and Howard had similar recommendations as Jacob’s.

Susan of TEAM Westport should have been in a photo – she’s a major driver behind making this contest happen well!

Judges with winners

Winners with judges

Why Support Under-Privileged Kids at Elite Colleges

Frank Bruni’s op-ed addresses college admissions policies as they affect students who don’t have all the privileges of a town like Westport, with guidance couselors, private tuition for tests, and legacies to help them.

It’s not for those under-privileged students, he says, but for everyone else!

“It’s a plus for richer students, who are then exposed to a breadth of perspectives that lies at the heart of the truest, best education. With the right coaxing and mixing on campus, they become more fluent in diversity, which has professional benefits as well as the obvious civic and moral ones.”

This is exactly the message that TEAM Westport has been sending out since I’ve been a member.

Bruni identifies Amherst and a few other schools which are making great strides in identifying and recruiting students from lower-income families.

“[Amherst] has poured money into making sure that the financial needs of those students are fully met. In accepting transfer students, it has given priority to those coming from community colleges. And it has set up a variety of programs and services on campus to make sure that students without affluent, college-educated parents get any extra support they need.”


Author: Catherine Onyemelukwe

Author, blogger, speaker. Born in New York, grew up in mid west United States, lived in Nigeria for 24 years, back in U.S. since 1986. Advocate for racial justice.

One Comment

  1. Even when the “lucky” girls are found, they will suffer from PTSD and who knows what else for a long time. I hope they will get the help they need.