Students using Instagram to reveal what it is like to be 'Black at' private high schools

(CNN)In high school, Aigner Picou was an honor student, held a job, led a club, participated in community service and played an instrument. But she says her college counselor told her, a Black student at a private school, that a college with a more than 50% acceptance rate would still be a reach for her.

Now an alumna of the Loomis Chaffee School in Connecticut, she is watching as more and more stories like hers are being shared publicly.
As protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks have filled US cities, Black students and alumni of some of the country's most prestigious private high schools have taken to social media to share their experiences of being Black at majority White elite private schools. By bringing together the stories of current and former students, the "Black at" Instagram pages show that racism and discrimination in such institutions spans states and generations.
The more than 40 pages across nearly a dozen states share posts, most often anonymous, that students, alumni and even grandchildren of alumni submit through forms and direct messaging. The administrators of the pages said that, other than vetting the posts, they minimize editing and maximize how many are shared publicly.
    Josh Odoom, an alumnus of Woodberry Forest School in Virginia and administrator of the "Blackatwfs" page, said the grievances being shared online about his alma mater aren't new. But he hopes airing them in public can bring change.
    "Social media gives us the ability to apply pressure that we otherwise wouldn't be able to because we don't control the endowment," he said. "Our voices are making a difference online even though they weren't important on campus."
    "We see the Black@WFS account as a moment of reckoning for our school and for what it felt like and feels like to go to school here," a spokesman for the school said, adding that though social distancing adds challenges the school has begun listening sessions with students and alumni of color.
    While the pages have been energized by recent attention on racial injustice in the US and provide a new space for students to connect, the content is familiar for many generations.
    "For black people this is nothing new," Picou, who graduated in 2010 and is now an administrator of the "BlackatLoomis" page, said. "We've kinda been talking about this and fighting against this for hundreds of years."
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    The stories being told

    Though the stories shared on the platform show the individualized experiences of the Black students who submitted them, they are united by common themes.
    Many Black students and alumni shared stories of working hard and then overachieving to get into competitive private high schools, only to be told by white staff and students they were only admitted because of their race. And some of those high achieving students were then told as they prepared to leave the school that they would not get into the colleges they were qualified for.
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    Posts often spoke of racial slurs both used in instances of casual indifference and menacing vitriol. And the students and faculty who used the language often saw little to no consequences.