1) What do you think (if anything), people assume about you because of your race (personality, socioeconomic status, culture, childhood)? Have you tried to change or conform to their assumption?
- That I am a crazy angry black woman. If they think I am crazy then I am crazy If I’m angry I am angry and I’m black and I can’t change that. So it really doesn’t bother me too much. It’s gotten to the point that that is just how things are.
2) How does Andover approach racial divisions and diversity on campus? How does this approach integrate minority students into our community?
- In almost all the friend groups in the senior class there are no people of color, I think that there is a way in which we like to think we are diverse but there are pockets that are racially and socioeconomically divided. I think there are places were racism is more socially accepted such as the hook up culture. I hate when people say “I am not attracted to black girls” but there are all different shades of black and how can you say you aren’t attracted to a whole race. How can you make a prejudice assumption that you will never be attracted to someone or a group of people when you have never seen the whole spectrum. Some people say it’s preference but I think it’s racism.
3) Are there certain expectations other people have of you because of your race? Do you feel that other students hold you to act to “black or ethnic” stereotypes?
- I don’t think they are expectations, I think I have a reputation of being really crazy and I have talked to my other black friend and it is almost as if because we are black and are girls there is a craziness associated with us. My friend things that people think because she is black, she is loose and crazy and wiling to do anything sexually and that’s a reputation people pin on her. I think I have a similar reputation that maybe not sexually but one that focuses more on my personality that there is a crazy part of me that is black and that is the identifier for my reputation.
4) Do you find that it is difficult for black students to earn leadership positions on campus?
- In general I think not as much for black boys but more so for black girls. There is a certain element of respect that is somewhat lost transitioning from boys to girls. Even with certain black teachers there is less reverence and respect like less honor for their position. I have had classes with black teachers where students are noticeably ruder as if they simply don’t care that the teacher has feelings or an opinion.
5) Are there certain extracurricular activities you feel you cannot do at this school because of your race?
- I would never be on the crew team or play lacrosse. I probably would never do golf either squash. When was there even was a black person on any of these teams? I don’t feel like I cannot do these activities its just that 1-I don’t know how to do these activities and 2- I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing these activities.
6) Have you ever felt invisible because of your race at Andover? If you have a specific experience would you mind sharing it?
- I feel invisible all the time. Well not so much now but definitely freshman and lower year. It always comes up with guys. For black girls on campus, beauty is so underrate. I have so many beautiful black girlfriends and I know sometimes we all feel like we are invisible to guys and it is somewhat disheartening and I know its not going to ruin our lives but no teenager should have to feel like they aren’t beautiful. This is a male dominated school and when white males don’t recognize your beauty, in a way they are making you feel invisible then the black girls feel like they can’t compete with the white girls who get all the guys and the white girls now think that they are superior like black girls can never compete in the looks department, like they simply aren’t threats to the hierarchy at this school. Subconsciously, I don’t think white girls consider themselves equal to black girls because they never see many black girls with boyfriends. Of course that is because most boys do not recognize black girls as beautiful then black girls are not seen as socially beautiful and white girls believe they have more social power because white guys don’t acknowledge and respect black girls for their looks or even more importantly for their opinions. Within the girls, black and white, there is no camaraderie. Guys almost always hook up with black girls so they can check something off the list or entertain the idea of the exotic other. I hooked up with a guy once and afterwards he said “well that is one item of my bucket list” it was as if I am nothing but an object at his disposal. It’s dehumanizing. Don’t use me. I have brains, feelings and an opinion. They don’t see black girls in the same way they see white girls. Even when a black girl does get with a guy, there is never that 100% comfort. She will always be wondering how he sees her, and what he is going back to tell his friends.
7) Do you think, teachers and faculty, would treat you differently if you were of a different race?
- Oh yeah! But I wouldn’t be me if I were a different race. My blackness is an integral part of my race. I love who I am and I would never discount that or change that. It has shaped how I have identified and interacted with the world. Every interaction I have, and it is sad to say this, is based on race. My life would be different if I were not black but I would also not be me. I would have more opportunities at this school if I were white. I wouldn’t feel like I would have had to keep buying things to fit in. If I were white I would be in the majority and already fit in. I think friend groups would accept me better. I know I’m not the status quo but I recognize that is what makes me unique. My culture and racial ethnic background is such a huge part of me so I would never give that up just to fit in.
8) Is there a “typical black Andover student” if so how would you define him or her?
- I think there is a typical mold each black student tries to hold like the I have to prove myself. I have to show that even though I am black I am just as smart and worthy to be here. I think people go about it in completely different ways. Some people try socially by buying their way. Some use their sexual identity. Some use money to prove they can wear the same clothes and eat the same foods. Some are like I can buy the same drugs I can be just as drunk , some try and prove themselves in the classroom like I can get just the same grades as you Hey! Look at me! Maybe I got in because I could fill some kind of minority quota but I deserve to be here. All the black students are trying to prove themselves here in one way or another. White students have the same problem but blacks want to prove that they are not inferior.
9) Has Andover ever made you feel ashamed of your race?
- Sometimes I feel uncomfortable, like little things, freshman year my friend walks into my room and I talk differently with my friends back home, we have such a casual dialect and I never consider it as a sign that I am unintelligent what appalled me was my friends reaction to hearing me talk on the phone like that. She was like “I’ve never heard you talk like that it’s so silly, why don’t you talk like how you do to me all the time?” That really wounded me. Talking with my friend from home is comfortable to me. I know how to use proper grammar but I grew up with people who talk like that so it’s fair for me to want to talk to them like. She thought I should talk the way I talk to her all the time. If we are getting the same grade in English why should I not be able to switch my dialect with my friends? The way I talk does not make me any more or less intelligent. Can I not have my 30 minutes of comfort before I am forced to go back to being the civil black girl this school expects me to be?
- When I get my hair done at a salon and I have to wrap it, I feel uncomfortable about stuff like that because they are not considered normal, like if you run into someone wearing a shower cap they will make a comment about how weird it is but every black girl gets it. It’s part of the culture
10) What does it mean to be “pretty for a black girl?”
- Oh god don’t get me started. I grew up in n all black community so I recognize different views and shades as beautiful and it made me really value that. I recognize the beauty of all black features. Even in black culture there is a way in which lighter skin is revered. Sometimes even black people overlook that
- Something exceptional about you I mean exceptional meaning there is some feature of your blackness that is closer to whiteness. I think there is a pressure to have your hair straightened or kept in a certain way so that it is not the natural texture. Especially at Andover there is a fetish with mixed girls. Not even just black all mixtures like white and Asian or black and white or black and Asian. Ever since I was a freshman here. I think white boys are obsessed with exotic girls. Mixed girls get more attention and that’s problematic. White features make them sexier and while they are beautiful they are no more beautiful than their white counterparts. That’s where trouble arises. Black girls who are mixed with white can be considered more beautiful than other black girls.
11) Do you feel that there is self-segregation or segregation within our community based on race?
- Ok this is a huge thing for me. I think it is such an issue that when we talk about diversity on campus and we talk about how certain groups isolate themselves from others the first thing they bring up is how black students have these cliques. One reason this really upsets me is that as a minority, we find comfort in one another, to be a minority in a school of white students to have 8% have shared experiences involving their culture and their race of course they will gravitate towards one another and will more comfortable in the greater white community and we are in this place so far away, comfort is wonderful. People criticize af-lat-am and alianza latina and say why is there is no white group. This school is the white group! If I am the only black student in my class no one shares my experience. I don’t think its separation rather gravitation towards something comfortable. I think it is a certain loving and caring they can’t get in the greater community. A home away from home. They are all often the only black students in their class or in their dorm. Every moment besides when they are hanging with the black friends they are integrating themselves constantly. My black friends understand things my white friends never could. I understand the importance of not isolating myself. There are black students who are anti-conforming but that is not the majority of black students On the other hand it is really easy to be a white student and completely isolate yourself from having minority friends. That is where the trouble lies and why racism can be a problem in a school with more diversity than other kid. Some white kids believe they don’t need black friends. They will all go to Ivies, become investment bankers and they think they don’t need to subscribe to this idea of diversity at Andover because in their life path, they will never need diversity. This is where the racism come from s because there is not discussion between black students and the numerous groups who feel above the idea of diversity. Students who don’t make an effort to meet people in any minorities. The only people they are talking too are like-minded people who are already entitled and they get this idea of superiority. I think people should learn form others of different cultures and cultural experience. It would really change the dynamic of the school if there were more of a dialogue between the racial minorities and white student about race.
12) Do you feel that you have to dress, talk or act a certain way so people will make assumptions about you because of your race?
- People assume black people are really ghetto and really hood. White people assume all blacks are poor. I come from a middle-class family I am not well off , or poor. Economic identity is something no one talks about and people just assume black students are poor. I know a lot of the girls buy certain things that the white girls buy and completely try and subscribe to this new England culture and contradict the assumptions whites might have about them. No black girls ever wear stereotypically black brands. There is a culture of trying to prove that someone is not an impoverished hoodlum.
13) Do you think that there is a general assumption on campus about black people and college admissions?
- There is never conversations between blacks and blacks or blacks and whites about it. It’s uncomfortable. No one is informed enough about this topic. When Spike Lee came a white girl asked if he agreed with affirmative action, which was an obvious question, he is a liberal black man she knew the answer before she asked the question. I wish students where better informed about it. I don’t thin the girl knew what she was talking about when she asked the question. Most people think affirmative action is bad because their parents say so and tell them that it won’t help them get into college. I think people need to be more informed about how it works before making assumptions about how it affects them. People always tell me “You’re black so your chances of getting into college are better, or you don’t need to worry about school as much as I do.”