Senior Girl: Interview 5

 

 

 

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?

When I first came here people assumed that I listened to certain music, thought I would be louder than I actually am, and were surprised when I told them where I’m from. Someone even asked me if I was half white after I told them that my hair was all my own (smh). I never tried to conform to any of their assumptions. I don’t go out of my way to change their assumptions either, but I correct them when they are talking to me.

 

2)   How does Andover approach racial divisions and diversity on campus? How does this approach integrate minority students into our community?

Andover as an institution doesn’t do anything to approach racial divisions on campus. When it comes to diversity there are forums and clubs are open to everyone. When it comes to social racial divisions minority students are basically on their own to strike a balance between integrating with the rest of PA and still being able to keep their minority friends. There isn’t anything explicitly keeping minority students from being integrated besides their peers. Either the close mindedness of their peers, or their peers keeping a certain distance from their ignorant slips of the tongue making it easier for minority students to want to stay together.

 

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?

When I first arrived I felt that, but quickly let others know that I won’t play into any role they project onto me. The only time I “act black or ethnic” is when I am with my black and ethnic friends because with them I know they won’t take that side too seriously and as my only personality, whereas if I ever acted that way with some other friends I feel like they would take that side as the only dimension to me.

 

4)   Do you find that it is difficult for black students to earn leadership positions on campus?

It depends on the position. If a black student ever wants a major leadership position on campus, they have to be more outgoing in general in order to get the vote even if they are just as qualified as their white counter-part, because if a black student isn’t outgoing and friendly to everyone then no one will know them.

 

5)   Are there certain extracurricular activities you feel you cannot do at this school because of your race?

No.

 

 

6)   Do you think people at this school; students, teachers and faculty, would treat you differently if you were of a different race?

Oh yea, definitely.

 

7)   Do people ever tokenize you? For example do people ask you to speak on behalf of your entire race?  “As a person of color, what do you think about….”

Yea, it’s happened unintentionally in English classes. Once I even had to say myself that I am only one black person from Connecticut and cannot speak on behalf of my whole race because they kept questioning me.

 

8)   What does it mean to be discriminated against? What experiences have you had that have shaped this definition?

For me personally to be discriminated against means having people unfairly look at me and think they understand me just because I am black, to have to defend myself and my identity to others, and to have to deal with more struggles than Andover already presents because of my race. To have to do more to prove myself, and to even have to defend myself to my friends. To have to deal with people rudely staring at me, but then hear friends say that I am exaggerating. To have to feel uncomfortable in certain situations without others noticing. To have to hold my thoughts in just so the rest of the majority doesn’t feel uncomfortable. To be looked at differently just for being myself. To have to deal with all the bullshit from students and teachers at this school on a daily basis. It isn’t fair.

 

9)   Is there a “typical black Andover student” if so how would you define him or her?

I don’t think there is a “typical black Andover student”, because every black Andover student has to figure out how to balance keeping their minority friends while still having friends of other races. Honestly, there aren’t even enough black students on this campus for Andover to have a “typical black Andover student”. The commonality all black students here have is probably being tired of dealing with the stereotypes, projections, etc. If you ask a white person this same question however, I’m sure they will be able to come up with a definition for a “typical black Andover student”.

 

10)                  Has Andover ever made you feel ashamed of your race?

No. More aware, yes, but never ashamed.

 

11)                  What does it mean to be “pretty for a black girl?”

Ughhhhh. It means that here no matter how attractive a black girl is a skinny white girl who isn’t as attractive is still better. It means that just because you are black you have to be above average in terms of attractiveness to even be mentioned or thought about. At PA, black girls are automatically placed in a different category and not thought about just because they are black. Are they mean? Scary? Intimidating? No. Just black. Unless all of their friends are white, then maybe you can talk about them being pretty.

 

 

12)                  Do you feel that there is self-segregation or segregation within our community based on race?

That is hard to answer. A black person can have friends who are multiple races but once they are only with black people it is seen by others as self-segregating. I think the same can be said for other races as well. Except for when there’s a group of friends that’s all white, then it’s ok for them to only be with each other. In terms of sports, classes, and clubs I think the community is pretty well integrated. The only time races will “self-segregate” is for meals or when hanging out, which I don’t think should be counted as self-segregating because it is the only time when they can be themselves and speak their own language without being conscious of what others will say or think.

 

13)                  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?

When I first came here I would never wear my Timberland boots because I thought people would make assumptions, and for a while I stopped wearing hoops because someone told me they make me seem more intimidating. I don’t care anymore.

 

14)                   Do you think that there is a general assumption on campus about black people and college admissions?

Definitely. Someone said to my face, “of course you’ll get in, you’re black”. Someone else said in front of me, “it’s definitely easier for black students to get into college”. Some discussions students were having after a guest spoke about affirmative action also disgusted me, I was surprised that people were making such racist and ignorant statements. It’s especially funny to hear uppers and seniors talk about affirmative action because they have all taken American History and know the terrible conditions black people were left in after the Civil War and even after the Civil Rights Movements. It amazes me that people think that America is still fair and everyone stands on equal footing. They also so conveniently forget the advantage legacy students have and the many athletic recruits for college just so the school has a good sports team. Even on campus, 99% of the athletic PGs are always white.

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