The Centipede

Embracing Two-Sided Conversations

Aaron Carrasco '18, Staff Writer

Clashing views are what make conversations. If everyone shares the same opinions and outlooks, there is no opportunity to move forward mentally, emotionally, and intellectually.

Concord Academy is widely known for being a progressive community that supports liberal values socially and fiscally. The political atmosphere of CA is predominantly liberal and this is portrayed through the various student-run social justice clubs, organizations, and safe spaces for marginalized groups like the Diversity Office, all of which are intended for fostering inclusivity.

In my opinion, these are all great supportive structures that the community fosters, but it can lead to a collective mindset that shuns people who do not share the same liberal ideals.

I was raised as a socially conservative person, but this was not something I realized until I came to CA. I was used to being surrounded by people who had the exact opposite views of what people at CA have: a bunch of people of color who all shared the same conservative values as I did.

Much like how CA looks down upon Republican Club and shuts down students with opinions that conflict liberal beliefs within this community, I had ignored and disrespected people who did not share my conservative opinions.

I did not realize this until I arrived at CA and saw how great a contrast there was between my political beliefs and those of the rest of the community. Because of this, I kept my values silent and simply conformed to those of the people around me.

However, through various conversations at CA regarding topics such as race, identity, and gender, I have come to understand that a lot of what I thought growing up back home stemmed from ignorance and a simple lack of knowledge. I did not have access to many of the support structures that CA has, such as affinity groups or workshops solely based on advancing my understanding of social justice topics.

The invitation of speakers such as Rosa Clemente who expressed more extreme liberal values than those voiced at CA, made many people uncomfortable. Similarly, an immediate backlash from the community followed after an assembly featuring a Chicago Police Department officer who maintained that she believed in Blue Lives Matter. In these instances, CA students failed to fully understand and interpret where such beliefs were coming from, which led to a mental shut down of conversation. Instead of disregarding people with views other than what the community largely endorses, fostering conversation with people from opposing parties and views would be very beneficial.

CA has become intolerable and fragile in the face of necessary, but uncomfortable, conversations. While we have discussed the role of the CA bubble, and its negative impacts on the community, at length, I think it is important that we take action to actually hear from those we disagree with. In order to do this, we must welcome people of different beliefs to join in these dialogues, so that they don’t become one-sided. Extending more invitations to speakers with more conservative political views would allow a wider array of perspectives to be introduced, heard, and addressed by the student body, which would then reopen an avenue for the CA community to engage in thought-provoking conversations.

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