These think and create posts are harder than you’d think. We cover a lot of content, but it’s not always easy to find, or rather, come up with a feasible connection. I came up with this idea, actually, after talking to my grandpa about school when he was a kid in Vancouver, around the 50s. Drawing from his experience, the book Dear Martin, and our discussions in class, I have written an essay on segregation within unsegregated schools. It’s an interesting topic, one that I have found interesting opinions on.
Essay: Self Segregation
Throughout history, people have been judged by the colour of their skin. When you picture a racist, though, you can’t fully have an idea of what they look like. It’s not always white men with pitchforks in KKK get up. It can be parents, people drilling into their young child this idea of segregation. Sometimes it’s not even on purpose. Hate is easy, jointing a mob mentality can bring you closer with your peers. When people get to high school, in unsegregated schools, they sometimes segregate themselves, on purpose or not. It can be hard to notice, but from the 50’s, till today, it’s still there.
In Dear Martin by Nic Stone, the main character is pushed in this direction of ‘self segregation’. He has internal struggles when he wants to date a white girl, for example. His mother, growing up in a time when it was very frowned upon for an African American man to be with a white woman, drills this idea into his head, until he makes decisions to push this girl away for his mother’s sake. Also, when his best friend is shot, he seeks comfort in his old, bad neighbourhood, wanting to be around people he thinks will understand. He separates himself from his best friends white friends, for other people like him who are bad influences. In both scenarios, he does understand the risk, but the racial pressures set upon him urge him towards a stereotype that will do him no good. He tries to do better, but this separate idea always comes to his mind.
Although in the 1950’s in Vancouver schools were not segregated, people still divided according to race and ethnicity. In one example from Frank Ward, who went to a mainly white school with some people of East Indian descent, there was a very large culture barrier. The white boys and East Indian boys formed tight cliches, avoiding each other, but often getting into brawls. While this was surely discouraged by the teachers, the brawling part, it helped maintain the divide of culture, and this idea that a non-white man couldn’t, or shouldn’t, be with a white woman. Whether drilled into them by their parents, or the media, this idea would have shaped not only the boys in the cliches, but the younger students and siblings. It can be hard to change a behaviour you’ve never been told is wrong.
After the Brown vs the Board of Education case was settled, and the United States declared that ‘separate but equal’ was not fair, integration of African American students into white schools began. Or it sort of did. There was nothing to say how soon this desegregation was to be done, and so it was up to the schools and communities to sort it out. One school that did integrate, though painfully, was in Little Rock, Arkansas. Nine African American students were enrolled to go to the school, but of course this was absolutely appalling to the white folk. There were riots and death threats as the children tried to enter the school, and the POTUS ended up having to send down the 101st Airborne Division to help them enter the school, but once they were in the school, they had no further help. The 9 students endured terrible abuse at the school, forcing upon them that they were not welcome to attend a school which the law said they could attend. They suffered for years because of this idea of segregation that had been drilled into the white children’s heads, that African American people were not people, and they had no respect for them.
This idea of segregation has done terrible damage to the world and its people, but it doesn’t seem to ever end. The stereotypes that were introduced then still impact our world today, shaping the minds of young children who know no better. Though having a rallying point is strong core of many communities, one so deep in hate should not be allowed. It can be hard to undo the past generations hate, but it is every generations job to learn about what happened before, and make sure it never happens again.
It is very hard to write an essay after being away from school for months, not to mention being in a room that smells like paint (long story). Essays are sometimes hard to do, but I felt is was a medium I could express these ideas on well. This is a very interesting project we are working towards, and each day teaches us more about the mistakes people have made and how we have to learn from them.