Raytown South HS Student Awarded Black Student of the Month

As our first ever winner of the BSOM award, we took a moment to sit down with Breanna to learn more about what inspires her, her vision, and plans for the future.

We are delighted to announce our first Black Student of the Month, Breanna Bonner!

We are committed to the empowerment and uplifting of the Black Community, rather than solely focusing on harm and violence, thus, we now select one Black student each month who is demonstrating exceptional talent, compassion, leadership, creativity, and/or solidarity.

This prestigious award recognizes Black student artists, athletes, dancers, actors, debaters, gamers, activists, and more. Winners of BSOM will be the world-builders and visionaries of tomorrow.

As our first ever winner of the BSOM award, we took a moment to sit down with Breanna to learn more about what inspires her, her vision, and plans for the future.

Breanna’s prescient answers are likely to enlighten not only her peers but even already-wise adults. We walked away inspired and hopeful for the future after speaking with her.

Defender: Thanks so much for doing this interview with us Breanna. Can you tell us about yourself?

Breanna: My name is Breanna Bonner, I’m a Senior at Raytown South, and I am a Strategy & Research intern at the Kansas City Defender. I got involved in the Defender last year after a series of anti-Black attacks in Kansas City led to my friends and I organizing a school wide walkout. Throughout my internship, I’ve learned so much about community, journalism, abolition, and the work it takes to imagine and implement a better future. My future plans are to attend college in 2022 and double major in human rights/ journalism. I plan to spend the rest of my life building community, defending my people, and organizing for a better world.

Defender: That is powerful. It sounds like you’ve already spent a lot of time thinking about not just your future but the future of our community. Would you say you are optimistic about the future for Black people?

Breanna: I am incredibly optimistic about the future and of Black liberation. I think there are definitely times where it is harder to continue hope than others, but as Mariame Kaba said, “hope is a discipline. I believe there is always a chance for change and transformation.” I believe that there is a better future in sight for black people and for humanity at large, but it is essential to begin the process of organizing for a better world.

Defender: It seems you are also well-read as it relates to Black freedom fighters, do you have a favorite author?

Breanna: I have so many favorite authors! On a revolutionary level, Angela Davis, Mariame Kaba, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, and Huey P. Newton. On a general level, Hank Green and Sylvia Plath.

Defender: That’s a pretty fire list. Definitely some of the most revolutionary thinkers of the past two centuries. All of those authors at some time or another have spoken passionately about the importance of Education to Black Liberation. In regards to education, what would you like to see Black students do in 2022?

Breanna: I would like to see Black students practice uplifting and empowering our communities in 2022 as well as becoming a united body of Black students. It is crucial that we spend our 2022 beginning to connect to other Black students and organizing to reach common goals in our schools. Things like gun violence prevention, abolishing police in kc school districts, and holding admin responsible for disproportionately racist disciplines is something that requires all of us. We must connect together to organize against these causes and stand in solidarity with our Black peers.

Defender: We are certainly looking forward to the continued work you and other students are doing this upcoming year as it relates to state-wide coalition building. I know we often get bogged down in the everyday processes of organizing, but here’s a larger more imaginative question, what does your Freedom Dream look like for Black Students?

Breanna: Man. In So You’re Thinking About Abolition chapter from We Do This ‘Till We Free Us, I made a list on the back of the page for what I would envision for a better world. It goes as follows:

“1. Schools in which students are prepared to learn to love, create, think, analyze, and become good citizens of our world. I dream of schools in which students can become one with man and nature.

“2. A world in which weapons of violence can be replaced with its antithesis; care and community support. People can simply be supported instead of needing to cause harm in order to meet their needs.

“3. I dream of community schools in which members of the community can educate students based on their individual community needs.

“4. I dream of a world in which love and compassion for fellow people dictate actions and decisions, not greed and capital.

Defender: That is an incredibly powerful answer. Wow. You truly are ahead of your time. Well, we have one last question; what do you like to do in your free time?

Breanna: I enjoy playing piano, performing spoken word poetry, creating art, cooking, and enjoying time with my friends.

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