Separating Ourselves at Lunch: Is This Self-Segregation?

by Bladimir Castillo

Take a look at the Student Activity Center (SAC) at lunchtime. Does it look to you like the students are separating themselves?

In the first level in front of the kitchen most of the Hispanic students sit in groups. There are also some of African Americans and separate groups of Ethiopians, groups of Jamaicans, and groups of other Africans.

On the second level, there are some more groups of international students, mostly Ethiopians, and many groups of White students.

On the third level there are a lot of White students, probably Magnet students, who are studying, reading books of college level and talking about scientific things.

Not all students sit in separate groups because there are a few students that congregate with students of different backgrounds. But it seems that students like to congregate with other people that they feel comfortable with and socialize with their own ethnic group.

Language is one reason why this happens. "Many students who don't speak English [well] easily get intimidated." said Erich who is a senior. Mr. Gainous, the principal of Blair, agrees with this. "Language is a boundary, and the obstacle of many students who want to communicate with each other," he said.

But there are some students who speak English and they don't hang out with the other students. "There are a lot of students that think highly of themselves, especially the Magnet, and the CAP students." Camilo Ricon said, while he was doing homework among White students. Even though that he is Hispanic, he likes to hang out with North American students. "My father is North American and I grew up this way," he said.

The security assistant, Everett Campbell, thinks that it is OK to be sitting and hanging out with your own ethnic group, "People who share the same background tend to hang out," he said. And as Mr. Gainous also said it, "They have something in common."

Brain Kelly, a Magnet student thinks that this is a problem. "When you started school, you started to socialize with people of your own ethnic group even in the neighborhood," he said. "There is nothing you can do about it but I feel bad about this because this is like segregating ourselves," he added.

According to Mr. Gainous, students tend to fall into groups because of sports and activities, classes they take as well as the neighborhood they live in. But he added, "It would bother me if the students segregated themselves completely because of race or culture."

Mr. Gainous feels that the important thing is not how students group themselves but the respect they have for each other as students. "If you have an atmosphere of respect where all the students respect one another as individuals, it wouldn't matter what color or culture you are from," Mr. Gainous said.

Copyright © 1999, Silver International, Montgomery Blair H.S., Silver Spring, MD USA (This page was created by Bladimir and Mesheren)

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