“It’s Complicated” – 9/13

“Though almost sixty years had passed since the US Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public high schools is unconstitutional, most American high schools that I encountered organized themselves around race and class through a variety of social, cultural, economic, and political forces. The borders of school districts often produce segregated schools as a byproduct of de facto neighborhood segregation. Students find themselves in particular classrooms—or on academic tracks—based on test scores, and these results often correlate with socioeconomic status. Friend groups are often racially and economically homogenous, which translates into segregated lunchrooms and segregated online communities”

This was something that I could relate to because I felt like this is something that hasn’t changed yet. In my high school everything seemed to be segregated by imaginary borders. Although it wasn’t technically segregation, it definitely felt like it. We always sat in specific seats that showed who our friend group was. Generally the most wealthy were known to be the most popular because they had the newest clothes, shoes, and were up to date on all the fads. I remembered that all the parties had the same people and you knew exactly where you belonged. There was a part of me that knew that this was how it was always going to be. I knew that things weren’t going to change until I left and was able to recreate myself in college. Don’t get me wrong – I really didn’t mind where I was socially but I know that there were several people who would beat themselves up for not being “cool” and would do the most desperate things to hopefully achieve social acceptance in a group.

“The most explicit manifestation of racial segregation was visible to me in schools like Keke’s, where gangs play a central role in shaping social life. Her experiences with race and turf are common in her community.
The resulting dynamics organize her neighborhood and infiltrate her school. When I first visited Keke’s school, I was initially delighted by how diverse and integrated the school appeared to be.”

When I first read this I didn’t realize how it’s possible for all of this to be controlled. But the answer is that it can’t be controlled because wealth, society, and class is something that you’re born into. It’s not her fault that she goes to the school that she does and is in the group that she is in. It’s probably just where she is most comfortable. No matter how diverse it is, there will always be social categories. I remember when a lot of the “unpopular people” would avoid the cafeteria as much as possible. They would scatter around the hallways, sit outside, or even in their cars just to avoid certain people. It’s crazy to see how people view high school in different social categories. It’s as if we’re living different lives but going to all the same classes. In Keke’s case, the gangs are the ones that shaped social life, but for me, the JAPS were the ones that ran the social scene. 

 

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