Who We Are: Cultures and Histories

After reading last week’s Letter to the Editor by Cindy Espinosa, it struck me that I’ve rarely heard discussions about African, Latinx, or Muslim culture among students on campus, even with recent cultural weekends and events. I try to be conscious of other cultures because, as a black student on

campus, I know what it’s like to feel that no one appreciates or understands my culture. In addition to my own, there are so many minority cultures that are not widely understood on this campus.

I am always overjoyed when Andover takes the time to host dinners, bring in speakers, and represent music from my culture to recognize my culture’s existence, but there are various other minority groups that tend to be forgotten by the Andover community. Many people in our community fail to take the next step and properly appreciate or take the time to understand and accept certain aspects of my culture or those of other underrepresented groups.

On our campus, there are so many groups of people that deserve acknowledgement, recognition, and representation. All members of our community need to show that they are willing to learn and invest time in under- standing minority cultures. On this campus there are opportunities, such as Latin Arts Week, MOSAIC’s cultural weekend, and CelebrAsian Week, to share  the stories of underrepresented groups with the entire community. Yet oftentimes – as shown by the small audience numbers at most cultural events – there is no one to hear them. Students who don’t understand a particular group’s culture should make an active effort to meet those people who are different from themselves.

There are so many racial-, religious-, ethnic-, and gender- minority groups that don’t have, but still deserve, more acknowledgement and representation than they currently receive. If Andover prides itself on its inclusivity, we must begin by showing each individual that they have not only a platform for their voices to be heard but also people to listen to them. I, and most members of underrepresented groups, don’t just want a month, a weekend or a dinner in honor of our culture. We want to bring minority cultures to the attention of the entire com- munity. Our lives, cultures, and stories are worth more than one Saturday night dance that fails to display our culture or one month that is always forgotten. That will never be enough. By encouraging

students to attend cultural events by offering some form of extra credit to increase audience turn- out or having more time in His- tory and English classes dedicated to reading and discussing text from an underrepresented perspective, Andover students can truly begin to understand other cultures and minority groups.

The stories of underrepresented groups should be heard and understood. If we take the time to listen to those around us and give a voice to those who are never heard, our community will become one in which every individual will have an opportunity to share their story.