MENOMONEE FALLS — Khalin Jackson, a senior at Menomonee Falls High School, said he was deeply impacted by the killing of George Floyd last year and the social unrest that followed.
"Just seeing it happen so much, seeing how it could happen so close to home, it just scared me a lot," Jackson said.
But the images from Minneapolis and across the country also motivated him. He knew he wanted to make a difference in his corner of the world.
"Just bring everyone together after struggling over the pandemic, struggling with just racial inequality all over the country," he said.
When school started back up in the fall, he went to one of his teachers with an idea for a club. Now, a year later, Menomonee Falls High School's Awareness of Racial Inequality Club has about 70 student members.
"We need this," senior Hailey Carver said about the club at her school. "It will be good for the people that are coming after me, and kind of start to build a more inclusive community in our school, which I felt was important especially after this summer."
Senior Aaliyah Parker-Fox also felt like this student group was necessary for her community.
"I was really excited for us to come together as youth to make a change and show that if we can get it together, adults need to learn to get it together as well," Parker-Fox said.
The group meets in the school auditorium to have conversations around race and the injustices they see in the world.
"Stuff like police brutality and, like, with the Asian hate. Those are really the two main events we see in our world today," said senior Quentin Redding.
Menomonee Falls is primarily white. According to the latest census data, 5.2% of residents are Asian, 3.7% are Black or African-American and 3.4% are Latino or Hispanic. The student group is also working to bring more visibility to the different communities at their school.
"Many of the problems are just with people not being educated enough on the backgrounds of people," junior Paige Schulz said. "I think just acknowledging the problems and raising awareness about them is what we're trying to do to help."
For Black History Month, the group decorated classroom doors with African-American men and women who have made contributions to our society and the world.
For Asian-American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, the students decorated the school hallways with images and information from various cultures. The group also had Asian leaders come speak to them about what they've experienced with the rise in anti-Asian hate.
Junior Seth Trimble said he hopes the club's impact is to "spread the right word across the school, spread positivity and have everybody see each other equally."
Ultimately, the club hopes that by educating each other and their community about the inequalities they see, they'll eventually create a more inclusive world.
"This club gave me a reason not to be scared anymore, because I know there's other people looking to do the same thing I'm trying to do," Jackson said.