To the Editor:

We, the student facilitators of last Friday’s forum on Ferguson and Eric Garner, would like to take this opportunity to thank the Andover community for coming out and participating in such enlightening discussions on race and privilege and to explain some of our motivations for holding such a forum.

Over two weeks ago, the nation was met with the horrific grand jury decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a white police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black, male teenager in Ferguson, MO., in August. The news shook Americans nationwide as well as the Andover community.

In response to these events, faculty members convened to discuss the matters brought up by the case at the beginning of Thanksgiving Vacation. Students, though not at school, provoked responses to the incident on social media with hashtags such as “#MoreThanJustANumber,” “#BlackLivesMatter” and “#AndoverStandsWithFerguson.”

Head of School John Palfrey, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, and Linda Carter Griffith, Dean of Community and Multicultural Development, emailed Andover students, faculty and parents over Thanksgiving Vacation and shared with us the importance of discussing the “racially-charged” issue at hand. “At Andover, we aspire to face up to events that have the potential to divide us, whether they happen within our community or in the world at large – to avoid being caught up only in the ‘Andover bubble,’” the email read.

The forum was intended to discuss facts and statistics related to Ferguson and other cases of police misconduct toward members of the black community, and for the discussion to build off of the affirmative action debate that took place last spring.

Some students voiced concerns that their conversations were too superficial and hardly touched on topics of systemic racism, systemic bias, white privilege and microaggressions, all topics that have significantly divided and affected our community and continue to do so.

In consideration of this, we hope that the forum served as a stepping stone for further conversation and thought-provoking dialogue outside of any specific, organized event and that it was the first of many to come.

Sincerely,

Avery Jonas ’16

Signed by:

Elijah Aladin ’15

Alex Thomas ’15

Nicole Navarrete ’15

Isabella Oliva ’16

Rosie Poku ’17

Nya Hughes ’15

Alba Disla ’15

Jaleel Williams ’15

Thea Rossman ’15

Devontae Freeland ’15

Jason Young ’15

Kailash Sundaram ’15

Carrie Ingerman ’15

Avery Jonas is a Copy Associate for The Phillipian.