What Students Are Saying About Experiencing Racism, Becoming an Adult and Bonding Over Food

What Students Are Saying About Experiencing Racism, Becoming an Adult and Bonding Over Food

I have experienced a lot of racism. It is also very hard for me because I am light skin and have black and white in me. I sort of feel like I don’t belong anywhere. I can’t fully be white and I can’t fully be black. I have gotten questions like “why is your hair like that?” and I honestly had no answer. When I went to an all-white school I got bullied so much that I wanted to be white but now I am proud of my natural hair and proud to say I am African American.

Diana Bedden, Upper Merion High School

@Diana Bedden I’m glad you finally realized that you should love where you come from, even if others are putting you down. I can definitely relate to what you’re saying about not belonging. I’m Mexican American but have very pale skin and I frequently travel to Mexico. When I do, I feel like I’m too “American” for the Mexicans and when I’m here I feel like I’m too “Mexican” for the Americans. I hope you can somewhat relate to what I’m saying because I understand how you feel.

Carla Luna, Glenbard West HS Glen Ellyn, IL

I have not faced racism once in my life. However, I feel for those who have experienced it, such as the students that participated in the survey. I believe that the numbers that were produced from the survey describe our society today: racist.

I see it everywhere I go, and sometimes even I am the culprit of it. I sit with only white people at lunch, I hang out with only white people outside of school, and I play sports dominated by white people. I know that this is bad, and there is really no justification for it. This article has inspired me to become a much more open person, and to try to include people of different backgrounds into my daily life, because not only will I gain more friends, I could also gain people that I never would have thought possible.

Carter Osborn, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

First off, I am white, yet I live in a town that is majority Asian. One might think that I, due to my skin color, have not experienced racism, yet I have. I have had a multitude of my achievements attributed not to my determination to succeed or my personal skill, but rather to my skin color. For example, I was named captain of my middle school tennis team in 8th grade; I had at least 3 people tell me that my position as captain was solely based on me being white, not due to my hard work and skill. I have been told that my success in school is because I am white and my teachers are white … One time, my English was talking about race, and before I even spoke, I was told by an Asian female peer of mine that I suffer from an “unconscious racial bias.” These events may seem rather trivial, but they are not.

Robert, West Windsor, NJ

Everybody says to me since you are a white male you will never experience racism or discrimination. Now so far I have not but that does mean it is impossible for me to experience discrimination. I am also Jewish which I have learned comes with its own difficulties and problems too. I feel almost every day I hear in the news there was another attack on Israel or some murder was related to antisemitism. My parents have told me not to tell random people I am volunteering with that I am Jewish because we don’t know who they are or what dangers could come from telling a random person. I hope that one day in the near future that there won’t be racism, antisemitism, or discrimination because we are all human!

Ryan Altschuler, J.R Masterman School

I feel like making a big deal out of Black History Month is a step in the wrong direction. Before you immediately get mad at me, point your finger, and call me an ignorant, bigoted, conservative white girl— (do you catch the irony?)— just consider how much more intense the rage is about race-differences with things we’ve made up like Black History Month. We have differences that should be acknowledged and sometimes even cherished, but we’re calling things racism/hate speech that really are not racism/hate speech. We’re saying that something no one living today participated in is still an injustice that must be corrected, and that we need to pay reparations to those people who were not alive for these injustices. The past, ugly as it is, is in the past and must be remembered, but we’re achieving nothing by living in those times. In fact, I would say we’re regressing.

Grace Robertson, Hoggard High School Wilmington, NC

@Grace Robertson Black History month was founded in 1926 by the late historian Carter G. Woodson. Originally dubbed Negro History Week, it was established under the pretense- the knowledge- that White Americans were not doing their job. It was established with the understanding that for 51 months of the year, students learn about white history. The education system was established such that students are made to believe black people have not accomplished anything of merit (save the few greats that are mentioned), students learn nothing of Africa (save the fact that slaves were taken from there), and black students are thus indoctrinated into accepting their subservient status.

Jacob Jarrett, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

Your argument that Black History month is regressive is, quite frankly, offensive. The only harm that comes from Black History month is racist white people having to acknowledge how unsubstantiated their beliefs are or “well-meaning” white folk feeling a bit of white guilt. It’s offensive that you would place your own white guilt over the fates and education of African-American boys and girls around the country, and offensive that you could compare this feeling of guilt to the racism involved in Jim Crow or Slavery. I shouldn’t have to tell you this, but you acknowledging the past and the struggles and lasting effects caused by it is nowhere near as painful as the trauma you wish to ignore. You are not the one suffering the most from racism in the United States right now, and your implication that you feel you are is disappointing. Your argument that the only thing that you can take away from Black History month is the crimes of your past is very offensive. It implies that black history is nothing more than a compilation of suffering. That black history is nothing but suffering. It is ignoring all the beauty of black history. With the struggle comes triumph. With oppression comes advancement. With suffering comes music and art and culture.

Jacob Jarrett, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

After having a long, respectful, beneficial discussion with my friend Jacob, I’ve changed my mind some. He is a big proponent for Black History Month and black empowerment, and he was actually willing to have a discussion with me in person about it. I must confess that my mind is not completely turned around, but he shows me a perspective I don’t usually see. As he describes Black History Month, it’s a time to educate people (black children especially) about a rich cultural past that isn’t covered very well in schools. Black History Month, as it’s meant to be, would eventually expand into our normal history lessons and way of life, teaching important facts and lessons and empowering people with stories we may not have otherwise heard. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need Black History Month because we would already be learning these things, but until we get there, the little bit we get during Black History Month will have to matter.

Grace Robertson, Hoggard High School Wilmington, NC

At the end of the day, it’s important that everyone knows they matter, and that they have to make the choice each day of their life to work for the betterment of both themselves and society as a whole. Sometimes that means not putting yourself first, sometimes that means being willing to consider different ideas and points of views. Thank you, Jacob, for being willing to debate with me, listen to me, and then civilly disagree about how to improve our world and expand our vision.

Grace Robertson, Hoggard High School Wilmington, NC