Campus appears segregated through eyes of a newcomer

Sean Sweeney, Staff Writer

By Sean Sweeney

On my first day at Grady High School, many specific details were apparent. Grady has multiple buildings, there is a strict cell phone policy and students have a large area to dwell in during lunch hour. The difference that stood out to me the most, however, is the racial divide.

For my first three years of high school, I attended Roswell High: a 2,000-student school in the North Atlanta suburbs. Although the neighborhoods in that area are assumed to be white and affluent, Roswell also contained large numbers of Hispanic and African-American students who congregated together seamlessly.

Everywhere I looked around the school, I observed both black and white students in the same quantity, but never truly together. At Roswell, it was not perfectly mixed, but it was very common to see a lunch table that sat students of all different races. At Grady, I was hard-pressed to find a racially mixed lunch table, let alone anyone of different races having a conversation. I pointed this out to a few students at lunch of both races as an observation, and they immediately recognized it as a well-known issue.

While it is easy to point fingers and assume that the white students are being discriminatory, it is important to understand that the majority are very liberal and accepting people. The divide that exists here is synonymous with how America is as a whole today. Legal segregation is long gone, but a cultural stigma to interracial relationships is still wired deep into our brains. I did not and still do not blame anyone at Grady; it is simply a systematic divide that is not going to go away without a conscious effort to change it.

The questions that have come into my mind are beyond the obvious. Why does everyone self-segregate? The City of Atlanta has racially-segregated neighborhoods, and anyone who has lived here for more than a month can see that clearly. The deeper questions are rooted in the reality of the issue and its possible solutions. If the problem has long been identified, why isn’t anyone doing anything about it? Are the students supposed to have artificial friendships to satisfy observers? Does the frequency of the question just make students even more uncomfortable to break racial barriers?

Related main article to this sidebar commentary:

Individually we are different; Together we are divided

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