UPDATE: ‘We stand … because we have respect, but we hold our fists up … to make positive change’: Chief Sealth Black Student Union protest

(Added 10:27 pm: WSB photos. More below)

ORIGINAL REPORT, 10:10 AM FRIDAY: For the third consecutive Friday night, a protest against racial oppression is planned during the pre-game anthem tonight at Southwest Athletic Complex. The last two weeks, the focus was on the visiting football players of Garfield High School. Tonight, before the Chief Sealth-Ballard game at SWAC, the protest will be led by the CSIHS Black Student Union, which sent this statement:

We, the members of the Chief Sealth International High School Black Student Union, are tired… We are tired of unarmed black men, women, and children being murdered and receiving no justice. We are tired of seeing our educational system fail our brothers and sisters of color. We are tired of being silenced; we are tired of being racially profiled; we are tired of being massively incarcerated; we are tired of the racial disparities of income, the racial and economic segregation of our neighborhoods; we are tired of being OPPRESSED, and repeatedly disregarded as human beings.

West Seattle, WA : The Chief Sealth International Black Student has joined other groups in solidarity to protesting the national anthem while it is played. On Friday, September 23rd, 2016, the Chief Sealth Black Student Union organized its first national anthem protest at Chief Sealth’s football game against Garfield. During our protest, many spectators from the stands of many different ages and races joined us in facing away from the field and raising our fists in the air. The Chief Sealth Black Student Union plans to continue our protests at home games during football season. Our protest was nonviolent and we intend to keep it that way.

At this upcoming home game against Ballard on Friday, September 30, the Chief Sealth BSU DOES plan to protest the national anthem, along with those who decide to join us.

We will, again, stand with our fists raised, with our backs to the flag. We stand for the national anthem because we have respect, but we hold our fists up to affirm our power to make positive change. We turn our backs on the flag in a plea for justice; to symbolize the way in which we feel our nation has turned its back on us.

This protest is not to disrespect America or the soldiers that are serving and/or have served this country. This protest is to shed light on the fact that African American fathers, mothers, and children are afraid of their loved ones leaving their homes, that Seattle Public Schools has the 5th largest black-white achievement gap in the country and that they have not even attempted to contact Black Student Unions in the district. This is to spark or continue conversations about Terrence Crutcher, Aiyana Jones, Alfred Olango, and all of the other unarmed black men and women who have been killed by the state without cause.

How are we supposed to stand with America, “the land of the free,” when people are afraid for their lives and treated as second class citizens because of their skin color? As the Black Student Union for Chief Sealth we will fight for the rights of black students and individuals not only in West Seattle but for black people across the country. Martin Luther King once said: “We must never give up infinite hope”. We hope that through our actions we can get people to begin a dialogue, and in turn, change the world. We want Black Lives Matter to be something that won’t have to be said because everyone knows that already . Don’t let the news blind you from all facts of the story, and don’t let traditional racist beliefs blind your judgement.

We want to be heard. We refuse to be silenced.

The Chief Sealth International High School Black Student Union

As mentioned in our daily preview, the game is at 7 pm at SW Athletic Complex, which is across the street from Chief Sealth, at 2801 SW Thistle.

9:23 PM: We’ll be adding photos of the protest – which was joined by some members of both teams – to this story, when we are back at HQ.

ADDED 10:27 PM: In the stands:



And on the sidelines (photographed via phone) – first Sealth, then Ballard:



Game coverage will be in a separate story later tonight.

24 Replies to "UPDATE: 'We stand ... because we have respect, but we hold our fists up ... to make positive change': Chief Sealth Black Student Union protest"

  • JTB September 30, 2016 (10:15 am)

    Good to see this. I hope many people are moved to join. In my opinion, this is an expression of the true patriotic American spirit. 

  • Alki Resident September 30, 2016 (10:19 am)

    So they’re going to turn their back to the flag during the anthem? Blocking others view of the flag while the anthem is sung with fists in the air? I’ll be sure not to attend these games. Shaking head 

    • WSB September 30, 2016 (11:25 am)

      Given the layout of the stadium seating and where the flagpole is, I don’t know that blocking will be much of a problem. Here’s my view from last Friday, in the stands where I’ve been the last three weeks, taking game notes while Patrick photographs on the field. I also didn’t realize last week that this photo shows the Sealth cheerleaders who joined the back-turn protest on the sidelines … we didn’t hear about the BSU action until long after the game. https://westseattleblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/IMG_6538-e1475259862190.jpg

      • Supportive Mother September 30, 2016 (12:51 pm)

        The students of the Chief Sealth Black Student Union protested respectfully and quietly last Friday night, much in the fashion of Dr. Martin Luther King. The American flag at the SWAAC field is parallel to the top of the goal post which is traditionally forty feet high. There is zero percent chance that those standing will block the view of anyone desiring to stare at the flag during the national anthem. The press release clearly states their respect for veterans, the coaches and the players. The fact that one person who has probably never been to one of the football games will not attend is absolutely inconsequential and meaningless compared to the overall message of the youth who are protesting. Some of these students have personally lost loved ones to violence. Many of these students fear for their lives daily in the current climate of our nation. I suggest that those who have a problem with these students exercising their first amendment rights to protest actually attend the game and have a conversation with these intelligent, thoughtful students. Hear their stories of being racially profiled. Hear their stories of loved ones lost. Hear their pain. Have a productive dialogue with these articulate and passionate students. They will respect your opinion just as they wish for you to respect theirs. These students have a right to express their frustration with a country that not only disrespects them but also entitles and empowers their white friends. Chief Sealth is a diverse and international school where all voices matter, even the ones that many try to silence.

  • Al September 30, 2016 (12:24 pm)

    Regardless of whether you agree with their goals (I, for one, agree 100%), I would hope everyone would applaud that these young people are getting engaged with social issues and expressing themselves in a non-violent effective manner. 

  • mark47n September 30, 2016 (2:57 pm)

    That is beautifully written and I am in full accord.

  • MsD September 30, 2016 (6:39 pm)

    I am a white person from the South.  I grew up there during the 70s and 80s.  If you don’t understand what people are protesting, if you think this is somehow disrespectful to the military or whatever your reason for being upset about this, I challenge you to listen to people who are not white tell their stories.  I have seen acts of bigotry that you probably wouldn’t believe if you grew up in the Northwest.  Acts that happen in other places aren’t quarantined there – racism (running the gamut from burning crosses to sidelong glances full of assumptions) is viral.  Again, I encourage you to talk to people who aren’t white and hear what they are saying about how they feel in their own country and what you (we) may be doing to make them feel that way.

  • T September 30, 2016 (7:30 pm)

    I am so impressed and thankful for the words this group has shared. I often find myself unable to articulate well my protest, support of a protest, or support of this movement. This group of young people have helped give me the words to continue a dialogue.

    Just WOW!  You are incredible!!!

    • WSB September 30, 2016 (7:34 pm)

      We are at SWAC and will be adding photos later. Our photographer had the view of the Sealth side of the stands and says about 20 students and several adults joined the protest in the stands; I had the view of the sidelines and can report several players participating from each team (Ballard is the visiting team tonight), plus several Sealth support staff and cheerleaders. – TR

  • Just Wondering September 30, 2016 (9:03 pm)

    What the students are doing is a “passive” response to the situation.  

    What are they doing for an “active” response to the situation?

  • Double Dub Resident September 30, 2016 (9:39 pm)

    Well MSD, I am white. I am in an interracial marriage, with  a child who is mixed. I have cousins who are half Filipino/ Filipina, Samoan, and I have  Black relatives. I have a  1/2 sister who is  part Portuguese and Italian. A great grandmother who is Cherokee. 

     I’m originally from the Bay Area in Vallejo, living in ghettos in the SW side where I had to fight simply because of my skin color of being white.

     Is there racism? Absolutely!! Is it all white people? Absolutely not!! I’ve worked with Vietnamese who ran out Cambodians looking for jobs. I’ve seen Japanese and Chinese argue. I’ve seen Mexicans and  Puerto Ricans get into it. I’ve seen Blacks and Asians hate each other and Blacks and Latinos do the same.   

      Look at Samir Shabazz as just one small example. He’s one of the leaders of the new Black Panther movement and he is calling for the killing of not only white adults, but white babies. Is that not racism?   It is not OK for KKK members to call for killing anyone because of their color. That is asinine!!! And it is NOT OK for other races to do the same. We can’t hold a whole race accountable simply because some POS such as these are loud mouths within such races.

      No one should hate another because of their skin color! Yet everyone of every race seems to do that, though white people get the most coverage of such a thing. 

      I personally don’t deny there is systemic racism in certain areas, but at the same time there is also personal responsibility that seems to get thrown out the window.  The “evil white people” are not solely responsible for the unproportionate single parent rates of the black population, often being the single mother; the unproportionate violent crime rates where approx. 18% of the population is responsible for over 50% of violent crime, the unproportionate crime against other races, etc.  And black on black crime is the biggest threat to black communities. 

      If there is going to be a conversation on this topic, then it has to be a conversation of the whole and not just a narrative that some people want to hear and believe. Like the often not talked about among white people about the white Mormon welfare. 

      We all have to get honest. White, Black, Latino, Asian, Pacific Islander, etc. We all have to come together, because we all have POS within each of our races. Lets call those people out and come together. 

      I have friends of all races and I want to judge you on the content of your character. I’m white and I guarantee you there are a lot of white people I do not like. Not because they’re white, but because they’re a POS.

      As people, we need to come together. Your skin tone doesn’t matter. Your character does. We all need to work on our prejudices.  


    • Mike October 1, 2016 (6:31 am)

      To sum it up, it’s not a nation against minorities, it’s select individuals against people they don’t find common ground with.

      Samir Shabazz is just as bad as any member of the KKK, I fear people with that mentality.  They are nuts.

      MSD, I’m guessing your world view of the PNW is in King County, probably mostly Seattle.  You probably did see a lot of bias and bigotry and racism while growing up in the South, it is there, but it is actually worse in Northern Idaho, where the Aryan Nation is based.  You currently live a few hours away from THE MOST hateful group of white people on the planet.  They don’t like you, they don’t like me, they don’t like anyone outside their wacko little world of Nazi minded idiots.   If I travel with my family to Coeur d’Alene Idaho, I have to be on high alert as my kids are mix race and they hate mix race people more than anyone else, that’s the sin of all sins to them.  The acts of bigotry you saw, not good, but the acts of racism by the Aryan Nation are things you would never wish upon any living being.

       Those are the things that need to be protested, how is it we allow hate groups to thrive?  It’s not the entire USA of white people, it’s select individuals against people they don’t find common ground with.  I fear crazy white people just as much as I fear crazy people that are not white, they’re crazy!  I fear people like Melissa Click, who are so insane they attack a minority for exercising constitutional rights…while protesting for minorities in regards to constitutional rights.  CRA-ZY!  And now she’s at Gonzaga…  a stone’s throw away from the Aryan Nation.  Welcome to the PNW, where it’s a circus show of crazy people.

    • Agrees October 1, 2016 (1:14 pm)


      Thank you for your reply – I couldn’t have said it better myself.  I look forward to the day when people are ready for a truly holistic view of race relations – not just situation-specific stories that we can all tell in a vacuum all day long..

  • Double Dub Resident October 1, 2016 (4:29 am)

    Sorry, correction,  I meant to say Homicides,  not violent crime. 

  • Question Mark October 1, 2016 (12:20 pm)

    ALKI RESIDENT and JUST WONDERING, I’m just curious what about the white heritage within you seems to want to criticize these students’ protest and marginalize the very well written message reprinted here in the WSB? Is it really that threatening to your world view?

    DOUBLE DUB RESIDENT, the way your argument seems to seek to diffuse the point the students are making, you seem to be discounting and disrespecting their concern altogether. Do you feel threatened by their letter?

  • Double Dub Resident October 1, 2016 (3:44 pm)

    Well Question Mark,  I was specifically replying to MSD,  but I see you’re trying to make an implication of feeling threatened by a letter that is simply not true.  It seems to me that you’re  doing the very thing you’re accusing me of. 

     I’ll say it again though.  If this country is going to have this conversation and I think  this conversation needs to happen,  then everything needs to be put on the table and ALL of us are going to have to get brutally honest 

  • Mr Alki October 1, 2016 (8:12 pm)


    Excellent post.  So true, and in this environment you’re brave to say it.

  • Supportive Mother October 2, 2016 (6:21 am)

    Speaking of percentages of crime rates when the justice system is broken and the arrests are made by white officers who egregiously racially profile people of color is not a valid argument. Also, everyone can be prejudiced, but only those who hold the power can be racists, aka white people. The definition of racism is about the power wielded by the majority and the oppression that power imposes. 

    • Jon October 6, 2016 (9:54 pm)

      Oh boy, what pointless college course taught you that?

      Hi. Low-income, interracial family here (half Muslim and from a third-world country), reporting in for duty:

      The fact that you trivialize the definition of such meaningful words so flagrantly only lessons their impact (much like any other buzzwords co-opted by any other idiotic, radicalized groups). Only a dishonest person would say that white people are the only people capable of racism or any other kind of harsh judgment (have you seen Tyler Perry films?). And only a fool would say that all white people have power and are well-to-do (you might want to research household income based on race, take a look at our City Council, or look around the homeless encampments).

      The times they are a’changin’!

      Allow me to provide some perspective in your life; of which I am sure you will ignore or counter with catchphrases you’ve picked up at rallies (I’m a seasoned vet with this nonsense, so don’t bother feeding me the lines):

      A friend of mine – who is white, and at the time, was an honor student at his Big Ten college – was beaten within an inch of his life one evening by a group of black men who decided that he “owed” them money on account of his skin. They pulled up beside him in a white van, jumped out, surrounded him, called him all the names in the book, and threatened him simply for walking along a sidewalk and for being white.

      He was poor and only had $15 on him and the beer he’d bought to take back to his apartment from the convenience store, to treat himself after a week of crunching for finals. He handed over the contents of his wallet and his drink, apologized (which is even more ridiculous), explained that he wasn’t looking for trouble, and then had his head caved in with bricks from behind. He was beaten and kicked until he was unconscious. They left him to die on the side of the road.

      The only reason he’s still alive today is that someone found him as they were driving by, had the heart to stop and do something, and called 911 about forty minutes after the fact. They barely reached him in time.

      After he was treated for the initial injuries at the ER, he required a number of facial reconstructive surgeries (five rounds, if I’m remembering correctly), so that he might resemble a human being again. After about a year of rebuilding his face, his mother had to then nurse him back to health and enroll him in speech therapy so that he might learn to properly speak again. He lived off of blended, drinkable meals for nearly two years.

      All said and done, he lost two years of his life, accrued and impossible amount of medical debt, had to abandon his career path, has permanent tissue damage, a speech impediment, and was absolutely the victim of a racially-motivated hate crime.

      All for being white at the wrong place and at the wrong time. All for $15 and a beer.

      If you’d like to personally tell him that he’s a privileged CIS white oppressor, and that there’s no such thing as a racist black person, and shame on him — I’d love to connect the two of you via email. Let me know if this is something you would like to do.

      You’re in America. Anyone in this country (especially your kids) – regardless of race or religious background – really should travel before they rant about how awful things are here; how “TRIGGERED” they are when they see a cop. Get back to me when you’re in a third-world country without a Whole Foods, Starbucks, customer service, Emergency Rooms, medicine, clean air, plumbing systems, running water, food, legal representation, social programs, the ability to protect yourself, or the freedom of speech.

      It’s not a perfect country, but it’s a lot better than what most people are dealt in life. Stop being so hyperbolic and consider becoming a first responder of some sort if that’s truly where you believe the problems lie. Anything besides the constant bullying (“YOUR SILENCE IS COMPLICIT!”) and language policing.

      Also, on the subject of religious political correctness: Islam isn’t a race and there’s plenty that’s fair in any faith to criticize or to find objectionable. Please stop calling criticism of an ideology a “phobia”. Just throwing our hat into the ring on that one.

  • Double Dub Resident October 3, 2016 (12:48 pm)

    @Supportive Mother,


       Your reasoning that only white people can be racist is ridiculous.


    Here is the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition:


    1.  1 :  a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
    2. 2 :  racial prejudice or discrimination


      So what you’re saying is that the leader of the Black Panthers who is calling for the deaths of ALL white people is simply prejudiced and not racist. That is absurd!! He is basing his hatred of all white people based off of their skin color and nothing off of their character.


      When Vietnamese discriminate against Cambodians simply based off of the fact that their Cambodian without any consideration to the content of their character, this is not prejudice. This is racism.


      When a Latino hates black people simply based off of their skin color, without consideration to their character, this is racism. The same for any race hating another simply based on their race.


       Your reasoning is that other races are not racist, but merely are prejudiced simply because, as you say, they don’t wield the power. So basically, even though there’s people of other races doing the very same thing that you claim only white people can do, they are only showing prejudices. So if said people come into a position of power, then the definition automatically then changes from merely being prejudiced to being racist.  That’s ridiculous.


       If a Cambodian applies for a job and a group of Vietnamese who already work there threaten to all quit if that person is hired, as I have seen. Is that merely prejudice? Did they not wield some power, even at a microcosm level? If a white person gets beat up by a group of black people simply because that person is white, is that merely prejudice, or is it racism since the person got beat up merely because of their skin color? If it was reversed and was a group of white people beating up a black person simply because the color of their skin, I would definitely call it racism.


       Trying to downplay racism as merely a prejudice is the attempt to give other races the “get out of jail free card”, while attempting to vilify white people as the only people who can be racist is absurd. Are their racist white people? Absolutely! But there are also racists of every race and until this is addressed along with the other issues that people want to talk about, nothing will change.

    • Jon October 6, 2016 (9:55 pm)

      100% agreed and just posting to let you know that you’re not the only sane person left in Politically Correct Seattle.

      Take care.

  • Jeff October 4, 2016 (9:49 pm)

    The Rev. Dr. King, in his most famous speech, did not disparage the ideals of this country, he called us out on them… looking forward to a time when this nation would “live up to the true meaning of its creed.”  That creed is stated in the POA, and to a less obvious degree, the National Anthem.

    I respect people trying to call attention to the problems in our society.  Our willingness, as a people, to have these debates is the hope and salvation of our society.  So I’m not all uptight about this.

    I think that these students are a little heavy on the “look at me, I’m angry” and a little light on the “let me help”, but I guess that’s typical of youth, and not a bad thing.

    But I personally would never turn my back on the American Flag during the Pledge of Allegiance… that statement, “liberty and justice for all…” (a statement of what should be, not what is) is the one thing that, in the face of the greatest injustices, I would simply stand taller for, and repeat more loudly, and ask, “why not NOW?”  

    I hope that these students, when the spotlight isn’t on them, strive to create liberty and justice all around them in their daily lives.  Therein lies the solution.  A solution for all of us, by all of us.

  • Double Dub Resident October 7, 2016 (4:36 am)


    As someone who also comes from a multi cultural /multi racial family,  I applaud your reply to Supportive Mother 

Sorry, comment time is over.