When I was in fifth grade, my mother worked as a nanny, and I was put in the unique situation of living with a wealthy white family in Cranbury, NJ. Like in too many upper class towns, I was the only minority student enrolled in the town’s fancy public school. At first, things were a bit awkward, as I was the one to go to when help in Spanish class was required. After the recession of 2008 hit, people turned on me because I was different from the rest of them. I grew to distrust white people as a whole.
While I clung to these beliefs for longer than I would like to admit, it was when I came to Andover that I truly understood the foolishness and error of these beliefs. The more I thought about it, the more I saw that there was a major flaw in casting an entire group of people — an entire race, at that — into one stereotype. I met kids who have had the antithesis of my upbringing, but found that their underlying values of friendship, integrity and honesty were the same as mine.
What we need to do as a community and campus is to start to learn more about each other, especially with regard to culture and race. We are all bright, qualified students, and we are all here for a reason. We are not here to fill a quota; we are “more than just a number.”
As a community, we need to come to terms with the cartoon that was published in The Phillipian last week. Although it was not the intention of the artist or editors to spark uproar by including an allusion to the all-too-dark history of blackface and minstrelsy, outrage was indeed the effect. There lies a bright side to this cartoon, however: it demonstrates the depth of emotion that members of the Andover community, both student and faculty, feel for the important issues of race, diversity and heritage. Yet instead of outrage, let us take this emotion and let us channel it into an effective discussion for the advancement of our understanding of these issues and for the greater good of the community as a whole.
So, let us keep the discussion impassioned, yet positive and productive. Let us not bash each other’s arguments, but rather put forth ideas on how to view these issues. And finally, let us create a genuine harmony, a task that requires every member of our community — whether he or she be Asian, Black, Latino, White or of any other ethnicity — to work together for the greater good.
David F. Gutierrez
2014-2015 Student Co-President