April 5, 2020
In response to Michel’s letter, students recalled their own instances of microaggressions made towards them.
“To be honest, there isn’t one part of Niah’s letter that didn’t resonate with me,” former student Reign Kingsley ’19 said. “I think every person of color that has attended Staples felt her letter on a personal level […] I completely agree with Niah’s statement. Every day is a reminder you’re not like 98% of your classmates.”
While Adler agreed with certain ideas expressed in the letter, Adler disagreed with a few points. However, Adler agreed that many ideas presented in Michel’s letter as a whole are important for students and staff to read and understand.
“Rereading it, I saw a couple things that I thought were kind of questionable,” Adler said. “[S]he said […] she speaks for the black and Latino community, but didn’t really consult a lot of people before writing the letter. She then called out principal Thomas [saying] they [the committee] hired him […] as a token black administrator which I heavily disagree with. He’s been really good for the schools and is doing more than anyone else I’ve seen in my four years at Staples.”
Fernandez agreed with Adler, and emphasized her frustration with Michel’s decision to speak on behalf of both the African American and Latino community.
“Initially, I was really angry,” Fernandez said. “I remember being so upset because she was appointing herself as the representative of all people of color at Staples […] I have a very different experience from her, and I’m sure so many other people of color do as well at this school. I was just angry that she had not talked to anybody about that.”
According to Fernandez, although she agreed with certain ideas presented in the letter, no solution was presented to remedy the problem.
“When I read it, it didn’t seem like there was a purpose. [I]t felt like it could have been ‘this is what I want, this is my story and here’s where we can go from here,’” Fernandez said.
Thomas hopes that efforts made after the letter will remedy Michel’s feelings along with other minority students.
“It’s unfortunate that we have students that feel that way,” Thomas said. “[W]e need to build community and make Staples a place for everyone, so that’s something we’re cognizant about. But it takes time to get things in place and it’s not going to happen overnight. There should be more awareness about what’s acceptable, what’s not and why.”