Separate but not equal: Barriers cut through Sequoia’s halls

Soana Afu and Sarah Fazio

It can occur during the simplest interactions; a glance in the hallway to a brief conversation in class: implicit racism can take many forms, and it does.

Unconsciously, individual possess biases and judgements of people from different racial and ethnic groups. People that are implicitly racist often don’t realize it. These preconceived and unintentional views and attitudes may be less pronounced, however, the effects are absolutely evident.

At Sequoia, it is most commonly seen within social cliques. Most students make their friends through middle school or the classes they take. Students from the same neighborhoods often go to the same local schools and share socioeconomic backgrounds. Many friend groups are very similar in both race and income level.

Latinos comprise nearly 60 percent of Sequoia’s population, while almost 30 percent are white. With such a large population of Latinos, there should be an equal representation in classes.

However, this is clearly not the case.

“For instance, in my freshman classes, I definitely notice more diverse classrooms … there’s a huge spectrum of not necessarily intelligence, but willpower and hard work,” freshman Logan Chin said. “Whereas in my math class, I definitely see more commitment and desire to get good grades and I see in other higher level classes there are more white people.”

As classes become more advanced, they also typically become more segregated. Latino students begin to feel more isolated in their advanced classes, which are predominantly white and Asian. As a result, minorities face social challenges in addition to external barriers.

“You have people that are pushing to be excellent in school, so it’s a good environment to be in. I struggle with ADD … there’s people constantly pushing, so it’s a better environment to stay focused even though they are very rigorous,” Chin said.

The division does not end in the classroom; it extends to the lunch tables, as well.

These are examples of the silent and implicit racism present in our society and school. These areas aren’t completely reserved for one race; however, disrupting them can cause a lot of tension.

Students will traditionally hang out with people they are comfortable with, and these groupings tend to be racially homologous.

Despite boasting statistical diversity, Sequoia still greatly struggles with representing this in classes and social groups. It is not entirely the fault of administration, teachers or curriculum. It is not necessarily that the two racial groups are not compatible nor that they are incapable of interacting. Instead, a combination of deeply-instilled societal attitudes and purposeful and historical separation which manifests through housing and income disparity, for example, has resulted in a complex, institutionalized problem in our schools, as well the society they prepare us for.