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Student 1: An Essay on the Importance of Multiculturalism in

Schools
I have grown up in what I would consider a middle class family. I have
never felt bad about my identity and have never gone to a school where I
have felt out of place. My private pre-k through eight school was
predominantly white. I assume that hearing private school, most likely
makes you think of snobby, privileged, rich, white kids, whose lives are
sheltered. You might think that they have no idea of any issues of race and
diversity. While this tends to be what most private schools are made up of,
my elementary and middle school was not quite like this.
Not everything was handed down to us on a platter. Even though we
had enough to pay one hundred and fifty-thousand dollars for ten years of
outstanding education, we were not stereotypical preppy white kids. While it
might sound odd that I am trying to defend myself as someone who went to
a private school, looking back on myself as a person during those ten years, I
dont see a snobby, rich white kid. I do see a sheltered white kid.
From pre-k all the way through eighth grade my class was ninety
percent white and ten percent African American, Hispanic, and Asian. My
experience with race was almost nonexistent, and I developed a sense of
belonging. I was a white kid with twenty-five other white kids and I felt as if I
fit in. I was in the majority and I felt comfortable, because, as Thandie
Newton stated in her TED talk Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself, the
self likes to fit, to see itself replicated, to belong. That confirms its existence
and its importance. We were all in the same social class and shared very
similar beliefs, especially when it came to politics. Almost all the kids in my
school were democrats, and it was assumed that most of us were all leaning
towards the left party. When it came to race, I never understood how race
was a problem in our everyday lives.
Because of my sheltered environment, I never understood how race
could be an issue. While the environment at my old school taught me that

being a part of the majority was a good thing, the environment at SLA told
me the complete opposite. The transition was foreign to me, and quite scary,
because, like Thandie Newton stated, I still valued self worth over all other
worth, and I was no longer surrounded by people who shared my same race,
background and religious and political beliefs. My self was trying to plug
in, and it [my self] was unsuccessful. As the community began to accept me
for who I was, I was not only taught that being a white kid in a school with
other white kids caused me to be unaware of racial issues such as
stereotyping and racial profiling, but it taught me that it was better to not
grow up in a sheltered environment. Being at SLA, I realized that I used to be
completely oblivious to how our society treats the minority so horribly.
Although, the main issue in my eyes, about me, was that I practically had no
friends outside of my race at my old school, and I was not aware of what it
was like to be the minority.
The environment at SLA caused me to change my views on race, and I
no longer want to be the majority at a private school. I am glad that I am no
longer surrounded by kids of my same complexion. I dont want to feel as if I
fit in simply because of my skin color. I know I fit in because I am different,
and that is the beauty of a wonderful community. It has taught me that we
dont need to be the same to fit in. In fact, it is better when we all come from
very different backgrounds. Being different is what makes us fit in.

Student 2: An Essay on Learning to Understand and Appreciate


Mixed Race Identity/Colorism
As a child I never understood why people from school who I had known
for years would be surprised when my dad came in for parent teacher
conferences. Your dad's black? Their face would be contorted with shock
and disbelief. This would always confuse me. I never thought of my dad as
black or mixed, or any race really, he was just my dad, but as these
situations grew more in frequency I also grew to expect the shocked

expressions. I would stand proudly next to my father, my broken elementary


school smile there for all to see, and when conversations of ethnicity came
up I was more than happy to state that my grandfather is from Jamaica. It
suddenly seemed like for all of the previous times the question, your dad is
black? were asked, there was an equal, if not greater amount of comments
along the lines of, It doesnt count because you look white, or Hes light
skinned anyways, youre not really mixed What does that even mean? I
remember thinking. But as these phrases were drilled into my mind by my
peers I started to wonder if I was mixed. I tried to correct people at first, but
they would roll their eyes, say Yeah, ok, but since you look white Im just
gonna say youre white. Its easier that way.
Recently I have wondered how you get your identity. Do you receive it?
Or do you create it? For most of my short life I have been under the
impression that what others say about you, is what is true. Convinced that
other people knew something that I would never be able to understand about
myself, their words rang true in my mind, opinions turning to facts. In this
way, society creates your identity and you then, receive it. This is not a bad
thing; it can be helpful to get insight from others on who you are. It only
becomes a bad thing when society refuses to acknowledge what youve
decided is a part of your identity. So perhaps its the opposite, perhaps you
create your identity and society is then the one who receives it. How they
receive it, is not up to you.
What I notice more and more is that identity is influenced by both
oneself and society. It is a give and take relationship, a balance that more
people should understand. In a TED talks by Thandie Newton she says, But
the self is a projection based on other peoples projections. I find that this
quote has two meanings. The first being that you can show and express who
you are, but you can also be shown parts of yourself that you didnt even
know existed. The second, that your identity comes only from what others
have told you is your identity. The latter is what I experienced as a younger

child. So many other people telling me what I am and what I am not that I
accepted their opinions as correct and forgot my own.
Just because its a convenience for you to remember, and to put me in
a box, doesnt mean that you can. I am proud that Im biracial. I love every
part of my ethnicity and I am not ashamed to say that when you look at my
family, youll see people whose skin contrasts their strong, dark brows and
whose shoulders and cheeks turn a rosy pink in the sun. But that you will
also see faces of cocoa and coffee, hair that twists, turns, and coils in the
most intricately beautiful way. I am proud that when I stand with my cousins
on my mother's side people say we have the same eyes and that when I
stand with my grandfather on my fathers that no one can deny the
resemblance. The shape of my brows, and placement of freckles a near
replication. It is not just these physical similarities that connect me to all
sides of my family, but our inner likeness, mostly overlooked. Little quirks
that are more embedded in my DNA than any race. I know who I am and for
anyone who tries to take away my identity, you can sure as hell bet that Ill
tell you, that I am a special breed of proud.

Student 3: Essay on the Role of White People in Conversations


about Race
Ever since I was a child my mom would exclaim over how delicate and
fair my skin is. Not until I grew older did I comprehend what being white
truly meant. Those who are born with white skin are gifted with privilege.
Because of this some of us live in a world of ignorant bliss, a white bubble.
In the Jose Antonio Vargas documentary White People these statistics are
mentioned in relation to the white bubble, the typical white American
lives in a town that is more than white (77%, as described in the
documentary) and the average white persons group of friends is more than
ninety percent white (91% to be exact). White bubble or not, as a race we
have not been forced to come to grips with how the color of our skin impacts

us as people of color have. Yet when discussing race, it is unavoidable and


people get uncomfortable very quickly. As a fellow white person, I am very
passionate about the issue of race and though I have never experienced
racism and do not have the ability to do so, race is something that deeply
impacts me. When attempting to discuss race I myself feel a pressure as if I
will cross a boundary and violate everyone in the conversation. These
feelings of discomfort raise the question of what it is that gives our race such
discomfort on the topic. One man in A Conversation With White People on
Race, a video By Blair Foster and Michele Stephenson provided courtesy of
The New York Times, touched on a plausible answer, I think in part it comes
from a sense of shame and guilt about what racism has done and kind of
how racism was built by white people.
In the book Learning to be White: Money, Race, and God in America
educator Henry Giroux is quoted stating this, Race increasingly matters as a
defining principle of identity and culture as much for white students in the
1990s as for youth of color in the 1970s and 1980s. Race significantly frames
how white youth experience themselves and their relationships to a variety
of public spaces marked by the presence of people of color. Though this
book was published in 1999, this quote is still relevant today. This statement
is not an invitation to praise white people as a race, but to raise awareness in
their minds as to how being white effects themselves as well as others in a
public setting. Some white people would like to describe themselves as
color blind. According to the documentary White People young, white
Americans say that society would be better off if we never acknowledged
race. While some white Americans think this is a solution to racism, they are
further burying their heads in the sand. Though it is nice to entertain the
idea that everyone is equal in a society, the truth is we arent. There is racial
profiling that occurs every day and white civilians reap the benefits because
of their skin color regardless of their opinion on the matter. Pretending that
there is no issue will not bring us closer to solving the problem of racism at
hand.

In A Conversation With White People on Race one white woman reflects


that I really did not know that I had a racial identity. I knew I was white. I
had no idea what that meant, how that had shaped my outlook on life, how
that had shaped my sense of optimism, sense of belonging, sense of safety,
sense of feeling entitled to go help children that I thought were part of a
community that couldnt figure out how to help themselves. As white
people in the 21st century it is imperative that we realize that each of us has
a racial identity. Considering racial identity, as well as the white bubble and
color blindness the white community seems to be invited into the
conversation of race. However these are conclusion which are coming from
a white female in today's society based off of her own research, so take this
as you will. There is still much gray area to be covered.