An interview with Unheard Voices Of FCPS, the Instagram account spotlighting the silenced


Helen Ehrlich, Editor-In-Chief

Fairfax County Public School (FCPS) is ranked number 11 out of 132 Virginia schools, in terms of diversity. Despite the demographics, students can still experience discrimination and go unheard. Instagram is a place to share and be seen, and two former FCPS students are using this platform to help other students express themselves. Unheard Voices FCPS on Instagram is a place for students to confess concerns and stories that they have kept to themselves.


I got the chance to catch up with Melena Durham, and discuss the way she and Tinielle Carson have been running the account.


Which school do you attend?

We went to James Madison [High School]. I graduated in 2019 and Tinielle just graduated.


What specifically inspired this account?

We were hurt and disappointed when we saw these tweets. It brought back emotional experiences from high school that we just brushed under the rug. So we made the account to bring awareness to our stories and other students’ stories.



How meaningful has running this project been?

It means a lot to us because we are able to give minority students an outlet to share their stories because we weren’t able to in high school.


Have you received any hate?

We’ve had some trolls who will try to undermine some of the stories. But not a lot of direct hate.


Which school has the most submissions?

Madison has the most submissions but I think that is because most of the people who follow the account are from Madison.


Which communities have you seen primarily expressing concerns?

Most of our stories have come from the LGBT+ community.


Have you received anything about South Lakes?

We haven’t [received] any submissions from South Lakes.


At Madison, were there any sort of schoolwide emotional intelligence or sensitivity lessons?

At most there [have] been mental health awareness videos. But nothing to help students cope with racism and homophobia. Certain teachers might have made some but to my knowledge I’m not sure about the school as a whole. We didn’t see any lessons like that.


What can South Lakes and FCPS students do to ensure they’re amplifying and listening to the voices of members of the Black community, those who are POC, members of the LGBTQ+  community and religious minorities?

The best thing to do is educate yourself first and then people at the school, starting from admin to teachers/staff to students. There definitely needs to be consequences for anyone who makes derogatory remarks towards any student (or teacher) about their race, religion, or sexuality because students keep saying these things because they think they cannot get in trouble. Another thing would be to offer electives about different minority groups in order for people to learn about and understand other cultures and communities.