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New Perspectives on Diversity

I have taken a look at a few recent articles in The Phillipian, and I have been surprised by what I have witnessed. That said, I feel that it is part of my duty as a writer and someone very interested in issues of diversity to respond with my own perspective to some of the very one-sided opinions of others.

Unfortunately, some of our students see a problem in looking into issues of diversity at the school, as if there is something wrong with wanting to embrace and acknowledge differences. After reading last week’s Commentary article, “A Quiet Future For Diversity,” I was amazed by the quote, “I fail to see how the segregation of public schools in the 60’s has much to do with Andover in the 21st century.” Really? Now my question is: has anyone read UCLA’s recent essay handed down in August of this year reporting the re-segregation of public schools in America?

There is also a problem with the thought that it was just the 1960’s that was a racist time period in history. Perhaps no one has heard of the Jena 6 controversy which entails the hanging of three nooses from a tree as a response to a black student sitting under a tree that was known for its “white student only” status.

Perhaps this community has forgotten about the large protests by the Hispanic community and supporters about issues of immigration and inequality.

Or maybe everyone has forgotten that an amazingly large population devastated by Hurrican Katrina was the area’s black citizens.

Let’s ask ourselves how these events occured in our generation. Doesn’t it sound a little similar to the mid-20th century? From just these examples, I cannot understand how anyone would say that there is no correlation between forty years ago and now. If you want to deny my mother and grandmother a chance to speak about what we as a generation should avoid in the future, then you ignore the fact that history has a funny habit of repeating itself.

Another shock that I have received in reading the commentary section was from the “Diversity for Diversity’s Sake” article and cartoon. In particular, the cartoon crossed the lines of respect into the territory of prejudices and offensiveness. The fact that there were three characters that represented “minorities” trying to get into Andover is not the problem. However, the fact that they were all looking down into a pool with the quote “Don’t worry… We’ll get in. They need us,” and the “no diving” sign with a four-feet-deep sign on the side is the problem.

I was deeply offended by the suggestion that the minorities seeking admission into Andover represent a shallow applicant pool. Does this mean that non-minorities represent a deep applicant pool? The cartoon is implying that the students sitting around the pool have nothing to offer but a number in front of “% of students of color.” Those who are sitting around the pool are made to feel inferior to those who are not sitting around the pool. Those who are not around the pool are made to feel better about themselves, and made to think that they got into the school on merit and not their race.

This is a question of perception, and as a black female, yes it is true, Andover does need me. And this is not because I am black, but because I have something important to offer to the Andover community as a whole. I, just like all of the other students here, have talents, ideas, motivation and drive. The fact that this cartoon would try to make minorities feel inferior because someone thinks that they were all accepted just because of their race is disgusting. This article and cartoon were definitely created to divide the student body, not create harmony.

I personally was offended by the article. In my four years here, I have not witnessed that the minorities who were represented around this shallow pool to have participated less in class. Nor have I witnessed that these “minorities” are earning lower grades than the other students. For all of those who have found themselves pondering over these issues, don’t not be fooled into thinking that there is any group of students more qualified for acceptance into Andover over another. Nor should you be tempted to think that it is no longer relevant to talk about racism, prejudices, and inequality. We are global citizens, and there is a big world full of the same issues talked about in every ASM and PACE class—we just have to admit that the fight for justice is not over.

Sincerely,

Kelicia Hollis ’08

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