The Unheard Voices: Discussing The Discrimination
December 15, 2018
When you first look at me, you may not know that when I walk down the hallway I hear degrading slurs regarding my race. In those moments, my palms start to sweat and my face turns red. Hundreds of questions flood to my mind frantically.Are they talking to me? Are they talking about me? More importantly, why did they say that type of word? A dozen synonyms race into my mind about other words they could’ve said. Do they even know the true meaning or denotation of this word?
In my head, I can’t help but wonder why they choose to speak in such a manner. Does it come from a place of insecurity or pure ignorance? Whatever the reason, all I know is that it doesn’t feel acceptable and it isn’t right. Being discriminated against for any reason shouldn’t be tolerable, yet there are few consequences.
When I arrive at school everyday, I set goals for myself. Academic success is my main priority. Yet, almost everyday I hear degrading comments and I feel worthless, as if I shouldn’t be here at all. Nobody wants to be in an uncomfortable position especially at school where they’re supposed to be safe. So why is this happening to me and people who look like me solely because our appearances?
At Grant Community High School, racism doesn’t seem like an issue that would come to mind at first thought. In our society in general, this is a huge problem. Despite the tremendous progress with equality movements, prejudices are still present. Judging others based on their looks, values, beliefs, religion, sex, etc. are all examples of discrimination that are current today.
Speaking up is a challenging task for anyone who feels as if their voice is powerless. Aliyah Cobb refuses to stay silent though, “People really don’t notice it, but I notice it everywhere.” Throughout the interview, Cobb opened up about what her personal experiences with discrimination felt like. She described it as a burdon and she kept wondering why. “I just feel like a lot of the kids here need to understand that certain things hurts us with the way they say things.”
Unfortunately, taunting in the hallways, cafeteria, classrooms, and even on our very own football field is present. When people think of racial slurs, the majority of thoughts go to the N word. Aliyah claims that this isn’t the only word that deeply impacts her. She feels personally from her experiences, when people make jokes about slavery or shootings that occur in Chicago, she takes them to heart.
Switching the perspective, but not the poor circumstances, senior Micah Smith had similar experiences to share. “I’ve been noticing racism coming off as if it isn’t even a thing. It’s just like a joke to people nowadays.” Micah claims that it feels hurtful and overall frustrating. His goal is to try and encourage a change within society to stop playing racism off like it is just a joke to laugh about rather than a serious issue.
Despite these highly offensive statements being used, the staff at Grant works tirelessly to decrease the amount of discrimination here. The Deans have written policies of proper protocols to follow in certain situations such as these. These guidelines protect students from harassment and can be found on page 19 of the student reference handbook. The Deans claim that specific cases might have different types of consequences depending on the severity of the situation.
Not only are strict policies in place, but a change in approach to curriculum has been made. History teacher at Grant, Mr. Maxwell Boton claims that he educates students using the method provided by Teaching Tolerance. Teaching Tolerance is a tool in which the practice of being open minded and respectful comes first when attempting to teach students. Mr. Boton believes in educating this way because he claims that it represents students in a manner that is deferential through hard topics such as racism.
Mr. Boton also suggests that any students struggling with racism of any kind to come visit a meeting with the Black Student Union. Everyone is welcome and this is a safe place where students can come to build community and discuss pivotal issues such as these.
Overall, the main goal at Grant Community High School is to always encourage the safety of students. Principal Mr. Jeremy Schmidt states, “My personal thoughts are as a school, we want everyone to feel welcomed, accepted, and safe.”
Throughout the remainder of the interview, Mr. Schmidt continued to explain how the Deans and staff work tirelessly to do their best and provide students with a healthy and respectful learning environment. Mr. Schmidt provided a deep understanding of how important it is to keep students safe and be empathetic towards the problems they find pivotal such as this one.
“Whether it be race or anything else, if that’s being infringed upon for our kids, we want to work to make that better.”