On Monday morning, the Andover community will congregate in Cochran Chapel to kick off annual activities observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day. We will hear from Maria Hinojosa, an award-winning journalist and anchor, before splitting off—Juniors to see a one-man show on identity, Lowers to watch a film, Uppers and Seniors to discuss race and culture in small workshops with their peers and teachers. This day-long break from classes offers a rare pause to reflect on issues of race and diversity at Andover.
The Phillipian has claimed to serve as the written voice of the school for 136 years now. We have endeavored to report on the issues that concern this campus and to provide a platform for those who offer insightful, relevant opinion. Yet, as an organization that strives to represent the perspectives of the entire Andover community, our masthead serves as a reminder of how far we still have to go to achieve meaningful, diverse representation. The Editorial and Associate Board of The Phillipian vol. CXXXVI—a combined total of 62 people—consists entirely of students of white, Asian or Asian-American descent. On a campus that boasts 41.5 percent of the student body as students of color, 22 percent faculty of color and lively CAMD clubs such as Af-Lat-Am and Alianza Latina, this board’s dearth of students of black, Hispanic and mixed heritage is a serious shortcoming.
A lack of diversity is not the fault of any single board’s turnover. Rather, it results from an accumulation of decisions and attitudes—both subconscious and conscious—within a system that disadvantages people of color. Racism does not only apply to overt acts of discrimination; it also describes institutionalized and internalized prejudices. The only black student at a writers’ meeting filled with white, Asian and Asian-American students might be discouraged by the “stereotype threat,” unable to view themselves at The Phillipian because of a lack of role models in their own race. By the same token, a white member of Upper Management who has worked his or her way up through the ranks of a newspaper dominated by white leadership is less likely to relate to and see those same leadership qualities in a writer or associate editor of a different race. Racism is a set of subconscious perceptions that can manifest itself even in the decisions we don’t think about.
Lack of racial diversity is not a problem that can be solved by one board alone—and it is certainly not the only problem of diversity and representation on this board—but it is a problem that we can begin to address by recognizing and owning up to its reality. In three weeks, CXXXVI will depart from the newsroom, leaving CXXXVII to lead The Phillipian. With this transition, we hope to reaffirm our ongoing effort to represent the student body. We do not have immediate solutions, but, by recognizing that diversity is not an outcome but a process, we hope to begin the discussion here, in our own newsroom.
This MLK Day, let us begin to think more deeply about issues of prejudice and racism that are still present not only in society as a whole, but at Andover as well. This is a chance to think critically about ourselves, and the way we act and live everyday in our community. As a platform for all voices at Andover, is it important for us, The Phillipian, to make diversity a priority.
This editorial represents the views of The Phillipian Editorial Board CXXXVI.