Uppers and Seniors Celebrate MLK Day With Workshops

Emma Staffaroni, Instructor in English 

Ever since Brian Gittens ’89 called upon the school to take the “day on” instead of the “day off,” Andover has celebrated MLK Day with educational programming and special inspirational speakers that honor Dr. King’s legacy in the ongoing Civil Rights struggle in the U.S. We are proud to feature CaMD students and organizations during this day. Usually students have more of an active role, but due to the pandemic and the fatigue we are all feeling, we decided to bring in more outside facilitators this year.

Kelicia Jessie ’08, Instructor in Spanish and International Student Coordinator

As an alumna, I remember my experience going to Andover, and you know you go to a lot of workshops, a lot of different requirements, academics, and outside of academics. Sometimes, it can blow past you. I can go here, on Monday, and when it’s over, it’s over. I think my hope is that students are able to reflect, and I think that repetition is important, which is why we talk about it in EBI even after ASM. It’s why students talk about it in their advising groups, what happened on MLK day, because I think that processing is important. If you just show up to the workshop, just go there to get your attendance for the day, then you might miss out on an opportunity to reflect about what this means for your life. And so that… can be applied in law, it can be applied in medicine, it can be applied in education, it can be applied in politics, wherever you take it. I think it’s important to make sure that you reflect on it, and not just show up but really take it from that space that you first learned it in.

Alicia Chu ’22, Participant, “Sticky Belonging: Hegemonic Gazes and the Taming of Queer Asian American Identity”

The part that really resonated with me was the stigmatization of H.I.V. and AIDS. I actually learned about it from “Grey’s Anatomy.” There was this episode I watched just a few days ago where they mentioned AIDS and how it used to be called “GRID,” which stands for Gay-Related Immunodeficiency. Even from the labeling of this disease, it’s so plainly obvious that it’s entirely homophobic and so targeted towards a certain group of people…  [It] reminds me of the whole ‘china virus’ thing. Anyway, it was super cool that she brought it up because it’s surprising how this disease carries so much history that I didn’t even know of before. 

Alexandra Koch-Liu ’22, Participant, “Whitepolitik: The Linguistic Construction of ‘Americanness’ and ‘un-Americanness’ in Public Rhetoric”

I learned that narratives are a means of legitimizing power and that “Americanness” is a legitimization and institutionalization of white supremacy. The discussions were very inspiring and made me realize that the only way for us to achieve inclusivity and equality in our country/world is for us to not only put people of color in political leadership positions, but to change this narrative as a whole. 

Kayla Lang ’22, Participant, “Abolition 101”

It taught me a lot about how the prison and police systems are pretty much only harmful to society and the people it’s supposed to be ‘protecting’, while also only enforcing these harmful systems on BIPOC. It changed my perspective on what I consider ‘justice’ and I hope to continue to learn more and engage in conversation with family and friends.

Kris Aziabor ’22, Participant, “It Ain’t Over”

I really enjoyed it. The discussion was lively and we as a group mainly [discussed] how the administration responded to @blackatandover. We talked about how we need to continue to pressure the administration by targeting the reputation of the school, and we need to continue to think of ways as students to make this community better, whether it’s improvements to the EBI curriculum or humanities curricula in general. 

Nick Koobatian ’22, Participant, “BLM and the Global Issue of Racism: How to Make a Difference in Your Corner of the World”

I thought the workshop was very interesting because it provided a perspective of America from someone living in the U.K. It also was cool to learn the process [one would go] through in order to set up and carry through with a peaceful protest

Somin Virmani ’22, Participant, “Sticky Belonging: Hegemonic Gazes and the Taming of Queer Asian American Identity”

[The] presentation was so inspiring and insightful. The magnitude of her research is astounding and I was able to learn so much about identity, Asianness, and their intersection in queer Asian identity and how the history of America as well as hegemonic structures in America have shaped it or, rather, tamed it.

Jayden Collins ’21, Participant, “BLM and the Global Issue of Racism: How to Make a Difference in Your Corner of the World”

When I learned about the work Danny Evans is doing in the U.K., I was reminded that systemic racism is not just an American issue. People are dedicating their lives to fighting for what’s right all around the globe.

Siddhant Sinha ’21, Participant, “Building A World Without Borders”

The most powerful—and somewhat horrifying—part of the workshop was when Ms. Engel narrated her experiences helping asylum seekers at the border. Her stories shed light on how dire and unjust the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border is for both asylum seekers and people working to help them.

Emma Slibeck ’20, Facilitator, “Turning Dreams & Goals Into Reality: How to Make Justice Happen”

Any workshop over zoom is going to be challenging because having discussions and engaging with each other over zoom is not as natural or easy. That being said Emily Ndiokho [’18] and I still thought it went pretty well. I think one of the things we really wanted folks to take away was they have all the tools they need to start any movement or social change. Sometimes we look at movements and it’s easy to [think] well, I could never do that, I’m just one person, but every movement and idea starts somewhere with someone. We just wanted to give everyone an extra push to have the confidence and understand the toolset they already have towards that. … We often get so caught up in what’s happening at Andover, and it’s important, but it was refreshing to see folks moving beyond Andover in their education just or dreams.

Denise Taveras ’21, Participant: “Turning Dreams and Goals into Reality: How to Make Justice Happen”

I think being able to interact with activists and scholars who aren’t a part of the Andover community/were former members of the community helped me to broaden and challenge my understanding of activism and justice. They brought in perspectives that were very different from what we have in Andover and I think it was really important for the activists students on campus to have conversations with people who had more experience and also were able to bring in new ways to be an activist.

Kenichi Fujiwara ’22, Participant: “Meeting with Charlene Carruthers”

[Charlene Carruthers] was not only super transparent, but she also addressed those who may disagree with her points with respect. She made it clear that she wasn’t there to convince everybody, but simply was there to inform. Furthermore, in my workshop, which I happened to have the opportunity to speak with her, the respectful environment was upheld. For me, MLK day was an incredible day for observation and learning.