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How Self-Segregation is Fueled by Racial Divisions- Opinion Piece

Segregation is an issue that has plagued American history, peaking after the Civil War and the ensuing Civil Rights Movement. Segregation finally became illegal under President Johnson in the Civil Rights Act, however, it continues today in less discriminatory ways. Single-race social clubs, dorms, fraternities, and graduation ceremonies are all instances prevalent in today’s progressive society. Additionally, in schools, lunch tables dominated by one race are the norm. This may seem counterintuitive to all of the measures and legislation that have fought to get rid of segregation, but, in reality, these self-segregationist measures are not comparable to their historical counterparts. Historically, segregation was something that divided our society based on race. Racist assumptions and prejudice led to a stigma around integration, exacerbated by efforts to separate black from white. However, now, this stigma has been somewhat overcome and the self-segregation prevalent today is more of a reflection on racial divisions within America.


When choosing groups to work with, or even just choosing a partner, more often than not, people tend to choose members of their race. This exemplifies self-segregation and whether this is a conscious tendency or not, it is a direct reflection of racial divisions. In today’s society, stereotypes are extremely prevalent. “Black people are lazy,” or “Black people are poor.” The list goes on and these stereotypes are practically ingrained into people’s minds, affecting who they associate with, how they view themselves, and most importantly, how they view others. Personally, as a woman of color, I have experienced this firsthand. Growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood, I haven’t had as many friends as my White peers. This not only affects how I see myself, but it also affects who I associate with. I am more likely to interact with people who can understand my struggles than people who cannot. I admittedly self-segregate and this is because of my fear of being faced with negative stereotypes which have been fueled by racial divisions.


Schools are like a smaller representation of what goes on in the outside world. For example, issues of racial prejudice occur on a large scale in the outer world and on a smaller scale in schools. One instance of this prejudice occurred when I was in middle school. I had been diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter and had to use crutches for about a week. Therefore, I had to take the elevator to class. One day I was getting into the elevator and one of my classmates said “No n***ers in the elevator.” I was baffled. I didn’t know what to say, so I ignored it. But, reasonably, this encouraged me to self-segregate with other students of color. Furthermore, one day in sophomore year English class, we were reading a book about African culture and European imperialism. The mentioning of an African character prompted one of my classmates to direct the n-word towards me, compare my skin to a black jacket, and make racial assumptions. This pushed me, even more, to solely associate with students of color. They knew my struggles. Instances like these are just mere reflections of the outside world which facilitates racial division. I mean, where else would they have learned to say things like this? Anyways, the main thing to get from my stories is that racial divisions cause self-segregation.


Black churches have remained controversial throughout the present decade. There is much confusion surrounding the churches including questions that encompass how they work, how they are allowed, etc. Despite contrary belief, these churches are not for only Black people. Anyone is allowed to go and become a member. These churches were created to give Black people equitable access to religious institutions, sort of in an instance where “If you don’t like it, make your own.” Which is what was done. This is the primary reason that churches like this are predominantly Black because White people already had access to quality churches. This situation reflects self-segregation as White people more often choose to stray from Black churches like this and this occurrence is facilitated by racial divisions caused by stereotypes and prejudice.


Segregation is an issue that has affected us for decades and will continue through minor instances of self-segregation like at lunch tables, in churches, and all kinds of school groups. This segregation seems to be an occurrence ingrained in our habits. In the present, however, self-segregation reflects divisions that already exist in our society, largely founded on ideals of prejudice and negative stereotypes. Nothing can be done to stop this segregation until racial divisions are taken care of. However, in a country founded on white supremacy, this is not likely to happen.


*Disclaimer* This is a piece I wrote for my AP Language class, I hope you liked it!




Image: https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/white-parents-are-enabling-school-segregation-if-it-doesn-t-ncna978446


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