Unintentional, but still segregation

| Staff Columnist

One of my friends asked me to help him put an outfit together for a concert we went to last week (which made me feel special). As we were driving to the venue, he made the comment, albeit jokingly, that we were twins, except I’m white and he’s black, which threw us into a conversation about race perceptions today.

I feel in the same way that even if we don’t realize it, here at Wash. U. we often have a tendency to segment off into racial cliques.

Someone told me before I came here that there was a lot of socioeconomic and racial segregation. I didn’t believe it until I got here and saw the groups that walked around campus. Before I go any farther, I want to say that this is by no means the standard here at Wash. U., but it is definitely prevalent.

Even when I got here, I didn’t notice it until the day when someone commented about a certain group keeping to themselves and shutting everyone else out. I started to notice it and then started to look around for it. When I began to look for it, I realized that it reached far and was represented in many clumps of people I saw walking together on campus.

It seems like even here, where we are in college and supposed to be so culturally aware and racially accepting, a lot of us still have a tendency to compartmentalize ourselves based on the color of our skin. It’s like we claim that when we come here, we are united under our titles as Wash. U. students or under our over-packed schedules or sleep deprivation, but instead of being characterized by those sorts of pan-traits, we take those off and draw lines, not even by majors or extracurricular activities, but by whether we’re black, white or Native American.

What bothers me is that we don’t even mean to do it. We just fall into old habits, maybe glom onto a group of people around whom we’re comfortable, but that raises the question of why being the same race as someone elicits a friendship. I’ve never really understood that. I don’t feel that it’s inherent in our genetic makeup, but rather that we’re just caving to old, still lingering ways of thought.

Just like my friend did not acknowledge the difference that he’s in business and I’m in English or that my hair is long and his is short or that I’m loud and he’s quiet, we seem to strip away all of our other characteristics like they’re just clothes and get down to what we really are: a pigment.

I don’t mean to imply that it’s intentional; I just want to bring awareness to it. We tend to slip into these sort of implicit cultural segregations and go against what our society supposedly is. We need to notice this so we can remedy it and actually be the accepting, integrated university that we’re supposed to be.

It doesn’t matter that my friend is black and I am white; we both wound up at the same place.

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