I usually get dropped off at school by my parents, and as I walk in, I watch the buses unload. As they come from different neighborhoods, the buses tend to represent the demographics of neighborhoods within the West Potomac community. I notice a bus filled with White kids drive up to the school. Once off the bus, these kids walk into school to greet their White friends. The following buses continue this pattern; whether the kids coming out of the bus are White, Black, Hispanic, or Asian, it doesn’t matter. Upon arrival they immediately begin this self-segregation.
Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely exceptions to this, the lines aren’t totally rigid. I am mixed, 25% Black 75% White. Despite not being entirely Caucasion I hang out with White kids, most of whom either come from my neighborhood or surrounding neighborhoods. One could argue that this is proof that the only reason races are separated is from growing up in the same geographical locations: same elementary schools, same sports leagues, etc. I personally disagree with this point of view because in my own experience, the fact that I am also Black is way more relevant than it should be to my Causasion peers.
Throughout my life I have experienced jokes, sly remarks, and even straight up insults solely because I am Mixed. I have been called the N-word by white kids, I have been called “White boy” by Black kids, and I have been called slurs that validate that I am both races, while still managing to insult me for it, things like “snow monkey” and “half breed.” So despite being accepted by whichever racial group I decide to associate with, it is clear that I will always be breaking the social segregation just a little, and that will not go unnoticed.
I am multi racial so I will forever be crossing that line, but when anyone else attempts to break that social segregation they receive similar reactions. For example, if a White girl wants to go out with a Black guy she is labeled a “snow bunny.” If a White person hangs out with a Black group they’re “trying to be black.” If a Black guy hangs out with White guys he’s an “oreo.” There are a million different terms to describe “race traitors” that walk the halls of my high school, and the “jokes” some students make is proof that this social segregation is systemic.
I am not trying to make the argument that my highschool is filled with racists, because that is simply not the case. But it’s apparent that our social structure is still built upon racial divides. And of course there are exceptions, but when it comes down to it there is a definite social segregation that is reinforced consistently by ridicule to those who dare to intermingle. Of course there are some cultural boundaries within these racial divides one must recognize. The Latinx groups would probably prefer people who relate to their culture, and I’m sure Muslim kids would connect more to those who share their beliefs. But it is clear to me that these cultural disconnects are not the only reason we see separation.
Whether or not it’s a conscious decision, kids are associating themselves with their racial groups, and often not expanding on that. So as I walk into school or while I’m sitting in class, I wonder what it’s going to take for our biases to be shed and what transformation is necessary for race to become irrelevant in our social interactions.
Author: Haskew Pearson
Location: Virginia, USA