2020 is undoubtedly a year that we will not forget. Many of us thought that 2020 would be our year, and the start of a new decade where we could achieve anything. Boy, were we wrong. As we wrapped up the 2019-2020 school year online, the recording of the murder of George Floyd was released. Within hours, videos of officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck were everywhere. The lack of respect for human life and the calm look on Chauvin’s face is haunting. From George Floyd to Jacob Blake and everyone in between, the summer of 2020 was one that exposed the hypocrisy and injustices of the American criminal justice system.
As a young Black woman who spends most of my year at Concord Academy, I sometimes find myself forgetting the harsh realities of the outside world. At CA, we always talk about equity and equality. However, when we leave CA, our world is much different. We often talk about the CA bubble and how it allows us to live in a world that’s almost utopian.
I never realized how much the CA bubble strays from reality until I spent the whole summer watching the videos of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Jacob Blake on various CA students’ Instagrams. The overwhelming majority of those students were not Black, and while they may have had good intentions, they did not know what it was like to watch those videos on a daily basis as a Black person.
If I were to describe CA, I would say it is the type of school that self-identifies as liberal, woke, and accepting. Some aspects of those identities are good; compared to other prep schools, CA is generally more accepting and educated on specific issues that affect their students.
However, it can be challenging to convince anyone who self-identifies with a specific trait or value that their actions may not line up with who they claim to be. Of course, we do not have non-Black students running around yelling the n-word, but we do have teachers continuously calling Black students by the wrong name. Freshman year, I think I got called the names of about three other female Black students all of varying grades in one semester.
The lack of support for Black students at CA is damning. We pride ourselves on our students’ mental health support, yet students from the Black community are silenced and gaslighted when they speak out. Posting “Black Lives Matter” and saying that the administration stands behind its Black students is not enough. It is not enough to be not racist; you need to be anti-racist. It all starts by listening to Black students when they speak about their experiences on campus. In addition, the ability to hold racist faculty and students accountable for their actions is critical. From listening and having conversations with Black students and faculty, CA can begin to create change on campus.