MLK Day 2021 – Student Reflections

For over 30 years, Andover has celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. King by engaging in a community-wide day of programming. Our guest speaker was Charlene Carruthers, whose book Unapologetic: A Black Queer Feminist Mandate, anchored our collective work.  In her book, Ms. Carruthers poses 5 questions to community organizers: Who am I? Who are my people? What do we want? What are we building and Are we ready to win? All workshops responded to and were in dialogue with these questions.

9th graders viewed excerpts from Thd 910: Identity Play, 10th graders analyzed social justice case studies to grapple with how racism functions & manifests in institutions such as housing and voting, and 11th-PGs chose from 19 workshops that explored a range of topics including: increased access to quality healthcare for deaf communities, abolition 101, discrimination against AAVE in the judicial system, community organizing, constructions of “Americanness” as an ideological cultural product, development of the BLM Leeds chapter and more. We hope you’ll check-in with your student to see what take-aways have stuck with them. Read some reflection quotes from students below.

“One thing that I took away from this workshop is the fact that all the different issues that we talked about are interconnected. It was interesting to see how redlining, mass incarceration, and voter suppression all effect minority groups. As a result of the workshop, I will be thinking of ways that we could combat these racist systems.” – Kaia Heslin ’23

“Racism is systemic, and racist structures have been built up and in our communities throughout the entire history of America. These structures need to be addressed, and PA should continue educating its population on this history. Racism is a problem built into the very foundation of our country, and a lot of work needs to be done to break it.” – Sophia Eno ’23

“The sense of self-acceptance that was present in the performer’s monologues was so inspiring for me. I take away a new appreciation for my fellow students and a great respect for the intersections of identities that happen when so many people of different backgrounds come together as a community. I also have a new understanding of the ways that people can surprise you when they open up to you, and that what I see on the surface of someone’s identity is only one part of their whole beautiful being.” – Cristina Donovan ’24

“One thing that I took away from this workshop was that identity can be talked about in many ways. I think that society is set up in a way that makes it seem like who you are today is who you have to be for the rest of your life. If some parts of your identity don’t correspond with the “ideals” then I feel like it’s much harder to truly know who you are or want to be. Sometimes I feel like I have to be a different person around different people just because I’m not truly “proud” of my identity. Some of parts of my identity hold value in society while others hold me back. I don’t have to worry about transphobia or homophobia directed at me but it’s still important that I use the parts of identity that hold value to fight for the people who don’t have that “acceptance.” The fact that I can discuss my sexual orientation freely but some others cannot shows a lot about how society is structured  so that people who don’t fit the imaginary box are afraid to be who they truly are/want to be. The more that these issues are discussed the more we see society’s ignorance.” – Leanny Lara Garcia ’24

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