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Thread: "Diversity": Teens Weigh in on Race, Gender, Family Income and More

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    "Diversity": Teens Weigh in on Race, Gender, Family Income and More

    Diversity: Teens weigh in on race, gender, family income and more

    With a growing focus on diversity in schools and popular culture, teens generally are sensitive to differences relating to race, religion, gender and sexuality.

    But members of The Courier-Journal High School Round Table said recently that some areas aren't as well handled, such as differences in family income or economic status.

    They also noted that some good-intentioned efforts sometimes have divisive consequences. Even joking, they said, can cause serious harm.

    Here are excerpts from their recent conversation.

    Railey: What do you think about the emphasis on "diversity" these days?

    Ash Lacy, 19, senior at Danville High School: At my school (it) is approached in a very good and careful way.

    Do I think it could be handled better throughout the country? Probably.

    Angela Rojas, 18, senior at Manual High School: We have so many cultures at my school. Everyone jokes about how white is a minority.

    Rather than just focusing on race, I think they need to focus on diversity in all aspects.

    Victoria Wilson, 17, senior at Rock Creek Christian Academy in Sellersburg, Ind.: We learn by the month: Black History Month and then a Hispanic Month.

    It should be taught in the whole nine months. It should be taught equally.

    Lauren Bradley, 17, junior at Assumption High School: There's not that many African Americans at Assumption.

    They gathered all the African-American students and asked us our opinions.

    We thought it would be good, freshman year, if an African American comes in and they are the only black in the class, they would have a mentor — another African-American student that is a senior or a junior.

    They would show them around and help them become more comfortable.

    Rachel Eldridge, 16, sophomore at New Albany High School: The whole country is trying to promote diversity.

    I feel like people that aren't a minority, they are almost getting left out of things. There is not, like, a white history month.

    Lauren: When I am in history class, all we learn about are white people and their history.
    (2 of 4)

    Just because we have our own month to celebrate what we have achieved, I don't think you should be offended by that.

    Tisis Spalding, 17, junior at Bardstown High School: I take AP (Advanced Placement) U.S. history. My teacher does focus on "This is the first black infantry; these are the first black people that did this in the Civil War."

    Black history should be taught every day of the year. Hispanic history should be taught every day of the year.

    White history, well, it is already taught every day of the year.

    Rachel: It would be good if it could be more integrated. I really think stuff like that adds to the discrimination.

    My brother's a senior and he would qualify for those scholarships except for that you have to be a minority of some type, so he's not eligible.

    Candace Hardin, 18, senior at Liberty High School: They do teach more diversity about race than anything. They could do a better job with income.

    Kamahl Hess Jr., 15, freshman at Central High School: At my school, every class has an equal amount of black, white, Mexican — all types of students.

    We had to write a paper on how we felt about the diversity in our school. We found out that people want to be here to learn, play sports and have a very good experience.

    Tisis: A lot of people go to Nelson County High because it is a predominantly white school.

    Nelson County is still more of Southern town that is stuck in Southern ways. There are certain places I would be scared to walk outside.

    Ash: That kind of sounds like Boyle County and Danville (schools).

    Everybody thought that Boyle has different views about race. Once I hung around with a lot of those people, I really found out that that wasn't the truth.

    There are people there I am sure that feel that way, but a large majority don't.

    Victoria: Some people won't talk to me because of my income or what my parents do or where I've lived. I don't want to sound like I am better than others. I don't perceive myself as that.
    (3 of 4)

    People always see it as "because you are poor, we are not going to talk to you." But it's like that in reverse too.

    Tisis: I hang out with a predominantly white crowd.

    The black girls in our school would look down upon me. They would be like, "You don't talk like us."

    I talk like me. I am one of a kind.

    Candace: It isn't just black and white. Sept. 11 kind of started a lot people singling out Muslims.

    People with disabilities: I was on crutches, and just being on crutches, people treat you differently.

    Also people with mental disabilities, they are treated differently.

    I grew up with an autistic neighbor. She looked different, but that didn't mean anything. She acted just like every other kid.

    Tisis: I was in a Wendy's just sitting down eating, me and this other black girl, and we're in a territory in Bullitt County that is not territory for black people.

    We hear "White power, white power" over in the corner. They are sitting there raising their fist at us.

    We wave at them: "You have a good day, too." And walk on out.

    Michael Clark, 17, junior at Valley High School: Even today women are still kind of looked down upon.

    The first thing that comes to my mind is sports. Boys make more money; they get more TV coverage; they get more games.

    I'd like to see how it would work out if the teams were mixed. You'd probably get more competitive games. It would be a better product.

    Rachel: I haven't really seen any times when teachers show favoritism because of race or gender.

    My brother had a teacher. She was black and everyone said that she was racist against the white kids.

    My brother had her and he didn't think that she was racist, just that she was strict.

    How well do your peers handle issues of difference?

    Michael: I hang around mostly with white people. There's always a joke.

    I'll say or I'll do something and it's like: "Oh, you've got Obama, you can do whatever you want now, huh?"

    It's never gotten so serious to where it became a fight or anything.
    (4 of 4)

    Rachel: There were three Asian kids in this class. One of their other friends came over and she was white. They were like, "This is an Asian-only group here, so get away."

    People were laughing, and the teacher kind of laughed.

    Would people have gotten mad if they were serious?

    Still, the joking kind of hurts.

    Angela: They joke about it (at school). I think it's joking.

    But I have witnessed or heard about people getting into fights over race or religion and people being threatened.

    Lauren: If they are saying negative things about African Americans, it's not really funny because there are not any African Americans in the class to stand up with me.

    Tisis: The only Japanese boy in the high school is constantly getting joked on about his race. They are always making racist comments.

    He'll laugh, but you can tell it hurts his feelings.

    There is this gay guy. The guys know who he likes. They make fun of him.

    I am bigger than some of the girls in my class. They'll make a little joke about that. It does get old.

    Kamahl: There are people who are gay or lesbian.

    When you make somebody feel like they're a bad person — that makes them feel like, "What's wrong with me?" — they may hurt themselves.

    They are not out to get you, they're just acting a different way from you. They have feelings and they are human beings.

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    This should open Europeans' eyes. You'd better get aggressive kicking out the foreigners now or your kids will all be this stupid. This is what multiculturalism does to people.. it's all about relating at the level of the lowest common denominator. Everything really pertinent is not allowed to be thought about. It's a zionist puppeteer's wet dream.

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