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Breaking Racial Boundaries

by Eric Leventhal, Editor-in-Chief

Let's face it, West Geauga isn't exactly a haven for diversity, racially speaking. Nearly the entire student body is Caucasian and only a small handful of students are from minority backgrounds. According to the district's state report card for 2003, 98.2% of the student body was considered "White," while only .5% were Asian, .4% African-American, and .4% Hispanic.

Alright, so that's the way it is. But does this really matter? Is it just one of those trivial coincidences that isn't really significant in the big picture? Or is this lack of diversity a cause for concern, a problem that must be addressed?

The problem may not be blatantly apparent, but cultural isolation and even some latent racism might lurk beneath the surface of our quiet community. The majority of West Geauga students have little experience in dealing with people of other races and cultures. Consequently, many of them have developed stereotypical perceptions of other cultures that aren't very accurate. Unfortunately, a few people even harbor racist sentiments towards the people they have never really dealt with.

No matter what their color or race, people are people. Whether they are from Chesterland or East Cleveland, everyone shares the same inherent human qualities, like the capacity for compassion, sadness, anger, and joy. As Shakespeare's Shylock said, "If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?" However, one has to actually interact with different people of in order to understand this concept.
Unfortunately, West Geauga students are missing out on this critical experience. For students who rarely venture outside of our quiet community, their only exposure to other cultures is through impersonal media like television and radio. In such cases, students often form stereotypical perceptions that are grossly incorrect. They assume that all African-Americans or all Hispanics are the same. To them, the average black man acts just like Lil' Jon or the average Hispanic woman like Jennifer Lopez. They view individuals of those races as prototypes, not as people.

Consequently, many West Geauga students are afraid to venture into areas where they might be in the racial minority. They feel that they wouldn't fit in and are unaccustomed to seeing people of different colors. Unfortunately, this attitude only perpetuates the racial isolation and seclusion that exists at West Geauga. Only when we make a determined effort to break out of this narrow thinking will we gain a true understanding of other cultures.


 


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West Geauga High School | 13401 Chillicothe Road | Chesterland, OH 44026 | 440.729.5950