On Friday, October 22, Audeep Cariens ’22 led an all-school assembly on systemic economic oppression of Black Americans, both inside and outside of Concord Academy. This presentation marks the beginning of a five-part series examining the education, housing, healthcare, and justice systems in the context of CA.
Audeep began his presentation by sharing key details pertaining to discrimination built within federal systems such as disenfranchisement, sharecropping, convict leasing and the War on Drugs. One of the quotes embedded in the presentation read: “Unless current economies change, black families will be poorer on the 175th anniversary of Emancipation than they were in the 1980s.” These extensive examples allowed the CA community to reflect on ways that the past influences the present, view structures within the United States through a racially concerned point of view, and understand the interconnected nature of the five highlighted systems.
The second part of the assembly allowed students to apply the material to CA and understand their roles as community members. One visual included in the slideshow explained how educational privilege leads to income disparities, showing that of 39,000,000 total students in the United States, 10% are enrolled in independent schools, of which 25% pursue higher education at elite institutions and 47% achieve an early career salary. Audeep commented on the harmful impacts of affirmation of class etiquette on students and faculty, namingly Imposter Syndrome; examples include the Model Minority and Meritocracy Traps.
Located in a very affluent town, CA also feeds into the deeply rooted inequities within the housing system. With the median house listing at 1.2 million dollars, Concord puts a significant financial strain on workers to be able to support themselves and their families. When looking at how housing is allocated and retained, the CA community was made aware of how living situations on campus could contribute to this inequity.
Later, Audeep introduced three new terms—debt, credit, and policy—to offer a broader context for thinking about these systems. Debt is defined as a way of understanding the broken system through exploitation. Credit is the act of the majority recognizing their debts to the minority. Finally, policy is a term that encompasses the ‘formal’ laws and regulations enforced by the ‘system’ or government.
After the assembly, the CA community was split into advisory groups to hold further discussions. Students and faculty dispersed across campus, sitting in circles behind the chapel and on the athletic fields as active conversations went on, advisors took notes and later shared their findings with Grant and Audeep to provide ideas and inspiration for the next system programming.