“Not So Prepped: Education Gaps in the U.S.,” “Public School: As Told in Four Parts,” “Last Hired, First Fired” and “Immigration” are a few of the articles displayed on the homepage of “The System,” a student-run website dedicated to educating the Andover community about systemic oppression.
The mission statement of “The System” says, “Our blog posts are intended to explain what systemic oppression is, describe the many forms it takes and demonstrate how it ultimately harms all of us.”
“The System” accepts student article submissions on topics relating to systemic oppression in the United States. The objective is to create a safe space for students to educate themselves and others about the issue.
“[Systemic oppression] allows a [group of] people in power to keep another [group of] people out of power… the big deal with all these ‘-isms,’ so racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc., is about power. So they’re all about power and who’s in power and how they keep power,” said Ashley Scott ’16, a member of “The System.”
The idea began to develop when students stayed behind after an Afro-Latino-American Society to discuss the need for a space to educate members of the Andover community about systemic oppression.
“I think our main goal is to make people of color and [other] oppressed people really feel like this is a space where they are understood and where they can go and voice their problems, their own personal truths, and we don’t want people jeopardizing that,” said Scott.
In addition to educating the public and creating a forum for discussion, members of “The System” also hope to inspire students to try and make a change.
David Gutierrez ’15, Student Body Co-President and a member of “The System,” said, “I see [the website] especially playing a role in awareness… I’ve talked to a lot of students… and they feel [helpless]. With this website and this knowledge, you can form groups and try to change… To actually act on something you need to have a foundation of knowledge.”
While in the past there have been events and discussions in response to singular news stories relating to systemic oppression, “The System” aims to create a larger overview that effectively conveys systemic oppression’s broad and pervasive reach.
James Taylor ’16, a member of “The System,” said, “Without that proper context, though you can look at a specific event, it makes it harder to comprehend it and understand why people react the way they do to these things happening. And I think it’s in the best interest of everyone here to have as much context and as much understanding as possible in these sorts of scenarios and issues.”
Looking toward the future, “The System” hopes to grow to address all forms of systemic oppression, including sexism, classism, ableism, and a host of others.
Scott said, “We want people to understand that it’s not just about racism. It’s about all systemic oppression… we also want to encourage people to send in things. We want this to be a community endeavor, we want all the people to participate and write about something that they either find interesting factually or a personal story.”
Taylor added, “We want as many people as possible to engage with us no matter where your comfort level is, even if right now it’s more so just reading the articles and thinking about it, or if you feel emboldened enough to start writing and really actively participate in the website. We welcome all participation.”