Q&A with Jelissa Ngako: Ngako shares her experiences, thoughts on racism in U.S.


Photo courtesy Jelissa Ngako

Sophomore Jelissa Ngako

While the Trump administration fueled racism, hatred, and more recently, insurrection in the United States for the past four years, with Trump out of office and the Biden administration taking over, things in America are finally looking more hopeful. Sophomore Jelissa Ngako,  a member of the Black Student Union for her two years at Wootton, has much to say about racism in the U.S..

Q: How long have you been in the Black Student Union? How has it impacted you and your experience at school?

A: I’ve been in the BSU for two years now. When I joined it really felt like a safe space for me, and surrounding myself with others who relate to me has had such a positive impact on me.

Q: How would you describe your experience at school as a Black female?

A: Being a Black female at Wootton has been pretty good so far, which is great because I can’t say the same for my experiences at my previous schools.

Q: Have you ever experienced judgment from your peers based on your race or gender?

A: I have experienced judgement for my race and my gender. Not at Wootton so far, but before, yes. I feel like most African Americans have had at least one racist encounter before, which sucks.

Q: 2020 was an impactful year for the Black Lives Matter movement and for inclusivity. How has that affected you or your mindset coming into 2021?

A: The amount of Black Lives Matter posts I saw online in 2020 was extremely comforting. After the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012, so many protests occurred worldwide. I remember fearing for my life just because of the way I looked, and that was extremely scarring for me.

Q: How did you feel about the Trump administration and its impacts on the United States from 2016-2020?

A: The Trump Administration was so weird, it shocks me that Trump was elected in the first place.

Q: How are you feeling about the future now, with Biden and Harris in office?

A: I think that the future of the United States definitely looks better now with Biden in office than it would have if Trump had been re-elected.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Capitol riots that occurred on Jan. 6, and how do you feel about the response from the Trump administration?

A: The Capitol riots were insane, I never in a million years would have thought that a group of people could effectively break into a government building. Those buildings look so secure, but I guess they’re not. If the mob had been rioters that were POC, there would have been a completely different outcome.

Q: How safe do you feel as a Black female at school and in the United States today?

A: I don’t know exactly how safe I feel; It’s hard to say. I definitely don’t feel safe and secure, but I also don’t know if I 100% fear for my life every day, which is unfortunately the reality for a lot of other POC.