CHS senior builds community connections
“You grow up naive, ignorant to everything,” senior Natasha Jain-Poster said.
For her, this all changed when a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American man.
“When the situation in Ferguson happened, I was really hurt. My mom was like, ‘We need to go to this Ferguson protest.’ It was a Black Lives Matter thing, and I didn’t really want to go, but my mom forced me to,” Jain-Poster said. “But when I got there, I met the most amazing people. They had so much energy and were so down to earth, and I felt like I wanted to be like them. That was the type of person I wanted to be.”
Since that first protest, Jain-Poster has not needed her mother to force her to attend more demonstrations.
“I definitely have a more open-minded perspective after going to protests,” Jain-Poster said. “Meeting people who come from different parts of St. Louis has really opened up my eyes to the different types of people who are out there and how we should respect everyone. It’s really rewarding.”
When she is not participating in a protest, Jain-Poster pushes herself to become active in her community through other efforts. To help protect underrepresented groups in St. Louis, Jain-Poster’s family hosts a social justice group at their house every Sunday. When Jain-Poster’s mother posted a notice about the group on her social media accounts, more than 20 people showed up to participate.
“They were all so intellectual and motivated,” Jain-Poster said. “That was really refreshing to see. We’re not only discussing the issues that face the community, but we’re also taking action. We go to the senators’ offices and rally, and we’re making a lot of phone calls.”
Beyond this social justice group, Jain-Poster volunteers for EnTeam, a non-profit organization that works to teach adolescents from diverse backgrounds to cooperate with one another.
After the election of President Trump, EnTeam created an outlet of the organization that specifically works to bring African-American youths living in the city together with the police officers in their communities. This outlet aims to ease the tensions that have increased between police officers and adolescents who have protested Trump’s presidency with violence.
“We have the police officers and the kids play games and really focus on cooperating and getting to know one another,” Jain-Poster said. “They work so well together. The kids are always asking when they’re going to see the police officers again, and they’re keeping in touch. Even forming just one relationship spreads a positive message to the rest of the community.”
Now, Jain-Poster strives to bring her work into the Clayton community. “Within Indian Culture Club, we’re trying to relate Indian politics to American politics and to the Trump Administration so that we can try to reduce the oppressive tensions that have been rising,” Jain-Poster said. “We really want people to stop being so close-minded. Both Democrats and Republicans lately have not been willing to hear the other Party’s perspective, but I think that it’s really important that we talk and start thinking about others.”
To get involved in social justice activities, Jain-Poster urges students to join one of the many cultural clubs that CHS boasts.
“Everyday, we hear about someone being oppressed, so it’s really nice to see people coming together and building relationships,” Jain-Poster said. “We need to take action not only as a nation, but really in our Clayton academic community.”