To The Editor:

“You’re black, you’ll get into college for sure.”

“Wow! You talk so white.”

“Do you have anything I could wear for my ghetto psyche tomorrow?”

All of these phrases are common on Andover’s campus. All of them have an impact that lasts beyond the conversation in which they are said. Though we claim to be accepting and diverse, the truth is that even seemingly casual statements burden the experience of Black and Latino students on our campus. Racism exists at Andover. With this letter, we hope to bring awareness to this reality.

Though often unintentionally offensive, words like those above still send a negative message. Most of these instances — called microaggressions — may seem well-intentioned; however, they wire us to believe that we are lesser and permanently outside of the acceptable Andover norm.

Black and Latino students have continually felt alienated from many campus discussions. To address the isolation that we sometimes feel, we have met in affinity groups to discuss issues that arise from living in a largely white community. At Andover, we are constantly aware of our racial identities. White students, on the other hand, have the privilege of not needing to be conscious of their race. Black and Latino students often fear expressing their feelings outside of predominantly minority spaces. We have hesitated to make this a community issue for so long because we do not want to be dismissed as “angry black people.”

It is time for that to change. This is an invitation to join a discussion that has already been going on behind closed doors. We must shift the school climate towards open dialogue. The experiences of minority students must play a bigger role in how all of us perceive this community. In The Phillipian’s 2013 State of the Academy survey, far more white respondents than black or Hispanic students believed that Andover was diverse. We need to recognize that there is more work to be done to make this a truly diverse community.

Though we claim to have “Youth From Every Quarter,” that fact is overstated. While 41.5 percent of Andover students are minorities, only 15 percent of students identify as black or Latino. Nationally, however, 39 percent of individuals under 18 identify as black or Latino. The underrepresentation of students of color on campus leaves us feeling isolated and as if we bear the responsibility of serving as spokespeople for our race. It is hard to be your whole self when one aspect of your identity is made to define you.

Minorities are underrepresented in the faculty, too. One department chair is Latino, and no cluster deans are black or Latino. For underrepresented students of color, the lack of role models that look like us is detrimental to our self-image. White students have their identity affirmed in all spheres of their lives — academia, the media, history. Black and Latino students are left scrambling to find adult mentors that come from their backgrounds. The Academy, unfortunately, does not hold “Faculty from Every Quarter” as a core tenet.

Ignorance is no one’s fault, but it is everyone’s responsibility to address. We hope that all Andover students, regardless of their background and identity markers, will feel the urgency to address issues revolving around race, class and intersectionality. We aim to lessen the tension around talking about these sensitive issues. While being politically correct has its place, the fear of being offensive should not prevent this conversation from happening. Every student at Andover is privileged simply by being a student here. We do not intend to attack privilege, but, instead, we wish to offer a challenge to the Andover community at large: can you confront your privileges?

Kai Kornegay ’14

Kayla Thompson ’15

Jada Sanchez ’15

Nya Hughes ’15

Devontae Freeland ’15

Jaleel Williams ’15

Benny Ogando ’15

Zainab Aina ’14

Co-signed by:

Farris Peale ’14

David Gutierrez ’15

Ben Yi ’14

Dan Wang ’14

Charlie Jarvis ’15

Alex Thomas ’15

Alba Disla ’15

Thomaia Pamplin ’14

Sydni White ’14

Mikaela Rabb ’14

Doris Nyamwaya ’14

Kory Stuer ’15

Isabella Berkeley ’15

Andrew Vallejos ’14

Rob Rush ’14

Kailash Sundaram ’15