Diverse but Segregated

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Diverse but Segregated

http://www.jacobsenconstruction.com/projects/east-high-school-remodel-addition/

http://www.jacobsenconstruction.com/projects/east-high-school-remodel-addition/

http://www.jacobsenconstruction.com/projects/east-high-school-remodel-addition/

Meya Smith, Editor in Chief

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East is a school full of diversity–we are proud of that. However, it is difficult to ignore the obvious segregation. Diversity should be praised and sought out and while East high has definitely achieved an immense amount of diversity, there is still a long way to go until we can truly say we are integrated..

 

When I walk into the lunchroom, I notice the dissociation between typically white, higher socioeconomic standing Clayton kids and the typically hispanic or black, lower socioeconomic standing Glendale or Bryant students. As I walk into the Town Hall, where the two gyms are located, it is almost entirely occupied with Tongan kids. So much so, that it is oftentimes referred to as the Tongan hall. Every day as I climb the stairs leading to C floor, I find Asian students sitting with each other and it is rare to find any other race among them.

 

Cameron Kelsey, a sophomore at East, who attended Clayton Middle School, explains that with his own friends, he spends time with them simply because they are who he has grown up with– not because he isn’t open to being friends with anyone else. He says the demographics do play a part into who he has grown up with and statistics show that most often, higher class is a predominantly white population. Cameron points out “Clayton is…kind of like–not high brow but like their boundaries are like Foothill and above, right? Which is, you know, it’s on the Hills.”

 

Cameron does believe there are students that self- segregate due to the difference in race and/or social background. When asked if he has ever been discriminated against because of his race or class he was quick to say, “I don’t think I’ve ever been discriminated against on my race. I’m just a white guy. I don’t really have to deal with that issue, right.” When asked if he recognized this as white privilege, he reasoned that when he is being treated a certain way, he doesn’t question if it is because he’s white–he feels it’s based on something else.

 

However, such a luxury is not open to various groups of minorities. Craig Miller, a new student at East, tells a story of the time he was walking home after a day at school when a police officer pulled his car up to Craig and questioned him as to why he was in the area. After explaining to the officer he was simply walking home, he was left alone. Although the officer did not persist after Craig’s explanation, it is hard to imagine the same scenario happening if Craig were white instead of black.

 

Denying racial profiling would be foolish as would saying that racism– intentional or not– no longer exists. While listening to Craig’s experience,  I am reminded of the “Stop and Frisk” policy. According to an article on the New York Times , Stop and Frisk is, “Under the Fourth Amendment, police officers can legally stop and detain a person only when they have a reasonable suspicion that the person is committing, has committed or is about to commit a crime.” While I believe the original intention of this policy could have been constitutional and helpful at one point, in New York, it became less of a question of reasonable suspicion and more of a question of what prejudice and stereotypes police officers had. They began to have no valid reason for detaining many minorities. ABC News article,’About 90 Percent of New Yorkers Stopped and Frisked were ‘Innocent,’ Says NYCLU’ explains, “In 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by police 532,911 times. In 55 percent of the cases, the suspect was black and in 10 percent of the cases, the suspect was white. In 89 percent of the cases, “the suspect was innocent.”

 

Perhaps, within East, we have the same problem of “authorities” being biased as well. Not only is it important for students to be aware of each other’s differences and be accepting of those differences, but it is also the responsibility of teachers. Holding every student’s participation to the same amount of respect and openness is essential to a thriving, diverse school.

 

In my classes, I take notice of my peers. While I am in my honors classes, I am seemingly surrounded by white students. In 2011,  a common trend arose between the Juniors enrolled in honors classes and whether they were on free or reduced lunch. According to data given to me by Mrs. Praggastis, the AVID coordinator, found on my.avid.org, a site non- accessible to students, within honors classes, 64% of these honors students were not on reduced lunch. In the 2011 junior class, 212 were caucasian and only 47 were on reduced lunch. However of the 241 minorities,  202 of them were on reduced lunch. At East, the juniors who are caucasian were more likely to be in honors classes and score higher on their CRT’s and ACT. They were also less likely to have reduced lunch.

 

Interestingly, the same source found that in 2011, the students who were on reduced lunch showed to have performed worse in non-honors classes than students who were not on reduced lunch. However, in honors classes, students on reduced lunch performed better than students that were not on reduced lunch. These findings were both based on their CRT proficiency.

 

Sometimes, I question the dynamics of relationships within classrooms. One day in a class of mine, we were given an assignment where we had to get into two groups and share our adaptations of a children’s story. My group was predominantly white and from Clayton middle school, however, my friend and I were the only students from Glendale. We were sharing our adaptations and when it came time for my friend and I to share, the group skipped over us and asked another white student to share his response. While we may not have been skipped because of our background, it remained the perception my friend and I had. I often feel that my opinions and thoughts are not valued by my upper socioeconomic standing, predominately white peers.

 

I feel that although I am white, I am not categorized as a “white” student due to my lower socioeconomic stance. I grew up in Glendale and I have been told numerous times that while I am white, I was raised “brown.”  I question what being raised brown entails and the response is generally along the lines of, “you know the struggle.” Meaning the hardship of being raised in a lower socioeconomic home has been classified as “brown.”  Herein lies the problem with stereotyping different races and the ties to their financial  background. I have come to find there are a vast amount of minority students who believe that white students have “easy” lives. While it seems as though white privilege and other factors have made the lives of caucasian people less difficult within the system when compared to the lives of minority students, I feel it is important to be aware that life is hard for everyone, however, institutionalized racism is the reality and it is something that all ethnicities need to confront..

 

Now that we recognize there is a problem, we need to know how it came to be in the first place before we can take the steps to becoming a more integrated school. South High School closed in 1988 and was located where the Salt Lake Community College campus currently is today. The school was considered to be for the poor and what is usually considered to be the minority was the majority on campus. As a result of the school closing, the diversity skyrocketed within other Salt Lake district schools. The interaction between the Eastside and Westside was described to me, by former potential South High student, Jennifer Wilkinson, who had been moved to East after the closing, to be merely for exchange of drugs. She explained that besides this interaction, the students kept to their peers who were more like themselves based on race and socioeconomic backgrounds. Jennifer described the attitude that Eastside students, as well as teachers, was as if Westside students were scary or not worth the time or effort to better their education. She referenced the lunchroom area, saying even then, the placement was nearly the same. The Westside students were put into the basement her freshmen year while the original East high students were upstairs with windows and better classrooms.

 

As of now, we should be able to realize we are all human and should all be accepted as well as able to integrate with each other. The new president, Donald Trump, has instilled fear in those who are not straight, white, and male seeing as though during the election up to today, there have been multiple instances where minorities in all categories, whether it be gender, race, class, or abilities, have faced unfair harassment; such as the instance in which he mocked a reporter with a disability, and the times in which Trump has said racial comments and encouraged his supporters to harass minorities.  I can not say that I know how to ensure everyone will be treated fairly in regards to opportunity, respect, or simple human rights. However, I can say that in order to accomplish something big, you must start small.

 

Within East, we can begin this small step. We have the opportunity to take action, we have to stop assigning certain characteristics to certain racial or socioeconomic backgrounds. We have to  stop judging each other based off our appearances, religious views, and livelihood.

 

Cameron brings up a valid point in saying he is friends with people he grew up with. However, what if we could find a way to introduce our backgrounds to each other when we are young. We could create an environment where our community expands to all feeder school district at elementary level and we enjoy activities together. A day of integration where elementary age students who are projected to enroll in East High come to play with each other and introduce themselves. As they get older, we continue these days of integration. With younger children, they seem to be less likely to have certain biases and more likely to  branch out and make new friends.

 

America is a melting pot of different cultures. When we as a nation learn the importance of coming together, learning about different lifestyles and backgrounds, we can begin to make real progress. Not only will we be more educated of the world and its people, I feel we will also become more peaceful. Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” I ask you, love one another– form bonds, learn from each other.

 

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