The Age of Ford

D’yasia Ford’s contributions to Black Future Month

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D'yasia Ford

D’yasia Ford (second from left) attends the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade with the Bolles’ Black Student Union (BSU). Her goal in bringing the BSU to the Downtown parade was to “promote Black excellence for Black History Month.”

D’yasia Ford (’22) remembers one of her first conversations about race with her parents: “Even though it will seem like you’re less than, you never are. They told me that the world was a big misunderstanding, but that you will never be less than anyone.”

A younger D’yasia Ford didn’t expect to have an easy life. Especially after her parents’ first mentions of racial division that still plagues our country. Along with the birds and the bees conversation, Ford was audience to a conversation about racism.

Looking back, she recognizes it was unfair for her to have to put on armor in the event of racism; she finds herself in preparation of battle everyday, but “that’s not the way the world has to be.”

However, the self-defined activist fuels herself with a reminder that she started life in what she claims is a “downplace,” or as underestimated black female leader. “Being a minority helps me,” Ford stated.

But the true cause of her academic and extracurricular successes is her desire to make Bolles a better place for her siblings.

Ford is very family-oriented as any child who lived in a family of six siblings would be. Living in an extensive nuclear family has taught her patience and selflessness; Ford laughs through her words, while trying to tame the siblings behind her. And it has led to some self-questioning regarding her siblings’ well-being: “How can I leave the world better for my siblings?”

Changes she hopes will be enacted in time for her siblings’ enrollment at Bolles include a system of affinity groups for different cultures to share their roots and an in-depth celebration of all ethnicities in history classes. “You’re only learning about white history in classes, I want to learn about myself too.”

Eventually, she hopes her siblings will carry on her trailblazer legacy.

Now, Ford’s complete lens of racism allows her to start laying down building blocks for these projects influenced by her own experiences with racism.

As a middle school student at Darnell Cookman, racism was not on Ford’s radar. Going into Bolles, she did expect to be underrepresented but assumed best intent for all students even after her first encounters of racism at the Upper School.

Ford has since experienced insults about her braids, racial slurs, and a steady institution of a sense of displacement at Bolles, and yet, she knows her own power. As a black female leader, she was brought up with the notion that any change would have enemies and so, she vows today and forever to make a change in the racial dynamic of the country.

This year, Ford became the president of the Black Student Union (BSU) and “turned it around.” Instead of the token “black kid group” that Ford admits the club could sometimes be known as, she created a community of excellence.

Under Ford’s leadership, the BSU this year has participated in this year’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Parade in Downtown Jacksonville and organized the black-owned business fair at the beginning of Black History Month for Bolles. On top of this, she is one of eight juniors elected for student council. But she says, “I don’t think I’ve done that much.”

Her favorite BSU activity was the MLK Day parade. Her “excellent” and “joyful” experience in the streets of Downtown Jacksonville reflected the history of the day. “There was so much beauty in everyone coming together to recognize someone that did something great and see how his legacy keeps going.”

All MLK paraders gathered together with eight members of the BSU in their midst for a picturesque afternoon that indicated both Ford’s self-happiness and the happiness of the group.

It is safe to say that this Renaissance woman is building her own path…a path that didn’t begin in the near past and surely will not end in the near future.

We want them to know that we are not trying to tear Bolles down, but lift it up. I want accountability.”

— D'yasia Ford ('22)

In fact, Ford hopes to continue her activism in an HBCU, as her older sister D’yanjel Ford did, and beyond. After watching Grey’s Anatomy, Ford was not so much influenced by the unnecessary doctoral romance, but more by the heavy racial issues that the medical world houses.

She notes that there is a stigma that Black patients do not feel as much pain as other races. Unfortunately, Washington Post confirms the TV stigma with their own research which shows that medical students inaccurately believe that Black patients have fewer nerve endings than white patients and therefore, feel less pain.

Ford hopes to continue to dispel this stigma and create her own medical program for underdeveloped Black communities.

But right now, Ford is focusing on present in-school discrimination and how she can change it. As a victim of racism, Ford holds its weight heavily. It is heavier than any classwork she has had to conquer and heavier than every course load she has ever taken. “You can be a happy person, but you’re taking all this stuff in.”

Change is imminent, Ford muses, but only for a school that does not deny its racist presence.

Ford knows that the people who have spoken out about their confrontations with racism may be seen as implying a negative view on Bolles, but “we want them to know that we are not trying to tear Bolles down, but lift it up…I want accountability.”

The “too big of a conversation” excuse is no longer an excuse, but a method of discrimination. The only truly affected populus, by policies that enforce racial diversity or policies against discrimination, is the students who experience racism. Ford notes, referring to the Pollyanna curriculum, “They keep stopping these things that are happening because it makes other people uncomfortable. Imagine how the people that it’s actually affecting feel.”

Ford wants to shape Black history at The Bolles School by making sure Black voices are heard. Denial of the Black voice is no longer an option for her. As a pillar of female black excellence, Ford is also focused on shaping a Black future.