This interview was conducted on Tuesday, May 24th; for any inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
This interview features one of the students who stood up on Monday's assembly, Maggie Adedamola (II).
Jaime: Ultimately, was it persistent systemic racism and a culmination of frustration that led to this outburst of emotion, or was it these most recent racist actions which lit the fuse?
Maggie: It’s been building, definitely, for many years now. With everything that is going on in the sophomore grade and these pictures a “perfect storm,” formed. That’s why people started to say that enough is enough.
Jaime: Was the administration aware that you were going to walk-out of assembly on Monday?
Maggie: No, they weren’t. In fact, we weren’t really aware that there was even going to be a sit-in on Monday, it just kind of ended up happening. On Tuesday, the administration was aware that there was going to be a demonstration, but the details were kept under-wraps. Ultimately, most of it was a surprise for them.
Jaime: How long, given your experience, has racial prejudice been an issue on campus?
Maggie: When you come in as a freshman you don’t really know that systemic oppression is a problem, either because you aren’t educated about it or because you haven’t experienced it. When I came in as a freshman, I wasn’t educated, I didn’t think about it at all, and I hadn’t realized that I had endured a series of micro and macro aggressions throughout my whole life. I grew up in an all-white town, so I wasn’t aware that these aggressions were racist. After I came to Milton, I began learning a lot about these issues, but I didn’t really see the problem and frustration within the community until last year. It just hits you.
Jaime: What do you say to those who are “out of the loop,” those who don’t necessarily understand or sympathize with your movement or are ignorant about issues of race? What is the importance of their education in solving these issues?
Maggie: It is important for white people to be educated about these issues because they have the institutional power; black people can be angry for as long as they want, but nothing is really going to happen unless they have some white people on board because white people can make actual changes to institutions. In terms of education, something vital for people to understand is that when a marginalized person tells you something about their struggles, you have to take it as a fact, because they’re speaking from their experiences. If somebody says to you: “you’re white and you have privilege and this is why,” you can’t ignore it.
Jaime: Many would say that this kind of demonstration wouldn’t happen in other schools because of certain factors. Do you agree with that statement? What factors at Milton allowed for the success of the demonstrations?
Maggie: I think it depends on what school you go to. In my old school it would never happen because there were three black kids. Ultimately, what made this movement possible at Milton was a combination of numbers and emotions.
Jaime: Do you believe in affective ed. classes? Do you think they are effective at addressing issues of race and privilege? Additionally, what can the classes improve on in the future to better address these issues?
Maggie: I think that there is a lot to fix. Firstly, people have to stop treating the experiences of marginalized groups as opinions. When your opinion invalidates the struggles or identity of another student, that opinion isn’t valid.
Jaime: What have your experiences been in affective ed. classes at Milton?
Maggie: Well, in Values, when I was trying to educate my classmates about the differences between racism, oppression, and prejudice, my teacher pulled me aside after class and asked that I avoid that kind of discussion.
Jaime: What disciplinary actions should be taken against the perpetrators? Is a DC appropriate? Are you concerned about the precedent a DC would set?
Maggie: That’s a hard question. I think that the reason a lot of people wanted a DC was so that the community would not only know about the incident but so people could receive some solace in the fact that this sort of thing doesn’t go unpunished.
Jaime: What are the boundaries to free speech?
Maggie: You can say whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be okay with what you say or refrain from developing opinions about you based upon what you say.
Jaime: Do you accept the apologies of the two students?
Maggie: One of them, yes. The other one, no. I didn’t accept the apology from the person who victimized herself and didn’t initially admit her wrongdoing not only publicly but to her friends.
Jaime: Were you satisfied by the administration’s response/answers to your demands? What can the administration concretely do to address these issues?
Maggie: I’m not sure what more the administration can do in the short term, but I do believe that the administration has to do things in the long term. There were certain questions and demands that I believe the administration could answer more concretely, and often when we met with the administration they danced around particular questions, vowing to reform the system while not directly addressing the source of the problem. In any case, on the front of immediate action I’m not sure what more they can do.
Jaime: Do you think that outside media sources should get involved in this issue?
Maggie: No. Media is a last resort, at least in my eyes. It is important to do all possible to enact change. In this particular case, I think bringing the media in will probably detract the administration’s attention from issues we’re trying to address, instead forcing the administration to focus on maintaining the school’s good name, and I think that will impede our cause.