Alliyah Logan may be just 17 years old, but she’s making waves in New York City as she fights to improve school safety for her community.
Logan, a Jamaican-American youth activist from the Bronx who serves as operations manager for the NYCLU’s Teen Activist Project, said she decided to focus her efforts on empowering Black youth due to her own experiences growing up in the NYC public school system.
“In elementary school and middle school, I was used to people breaking out in fights every day, there being police officers and metal detectors,” Logan told In The Know. “The amount of violence that we were just used to in our everyday life, like, having a fight, it was just common. Having your like classmates get shot was very common.”
Logan, now a senior-year student, said she noticed a drastic change after transferring to a predominantly white high school in the affluent area of SoHo, Manhattan.
“My activism was really driven by small interactions with different peers at my (new) school,” she explained. “They never experienced gun violence in a way that I have had or in the way that my community has.”
The disparity between her new and prior educational experiences led Logan to turn her focus toward the school-to-prison pipeline, an alarming phenomenon caused by school districts across the country employing disciplinary policies that push students out of the classroom, leading them into the criminal justice system at alarming rates.
Policies that encourage police presence at schools, employ harsh tactics like physical restraint, and push automatic punishments that result in suspensions and out-of-class time, are huge contributors to the pipeline, according to Teaching Tolerance.
“There are specific disciplinary actions that are taken towards (Black) students that are way harsher than their white counterparts,” Logan explained, noting inadequate school resources in poorer districts are partially to blame.
“A lot of schools with predominantly Black and brown students, or students who are part of a low-income community, they have metal detectors,” Logan said, calling such equipment a “direct” way that “students are encountering the prison industrial system without actually knowing it.”
To better help students recognize and understand the school-to-prison pipeline, Logan spends her time and efforts organizing rallies, leading protests, and speaking at town halls throughout New York state.
She says she hopes that by empowering youths like herself, she can help lead the charge to make education throughout her state more equitable.
“I think a lot of times people see (young people) as uneducated, or they even see us as naive to believe that we can change the status quo and change how our country and even how the world functions,” she said. “But I’m just so proud to be in a generation of people who are so motivated and so driven to be able to directly change their communities.”
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