Diversity: De Facto Segregation?
David Bustillos '14
Race still has an effect on people. It has presented an amazingly complex issue that continues to covertly affect modern society. Even in our modern era, de facto segregation and racial inequity still persist and divides the American people as a whole. SI has the ability to begin making critical change in our society by promoting (our favorite moral punch line) social justice.
Everyone claims to love diversity. The media portrays diversity with groups of racially mixed smiling, happy people. Schools are no exception. Colleges send flyers of such images to juniors and seniors to demonstrate their allegedly vibrant communities. Recently I received “The Brown Pages” from UC Davis, which show- cased the Latino culture at the school, despite the potentially laughably racist title. Other schools like the small Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology use a minority student as a poster child for their programs. SI also displays more than its fair share of racially diverse pictures on its homepage.
Every school claims they want it. Most claim they have it. Sadly not all schools have diversity comparable to society. In the incredibly diverse melting pot of San Francisco, de facto segregation begins at the grade school level. Ironically, I learned the term “de facto segregation” in an AP Government class dominated by a majority of Caucasians. For non-Latin scholars, de facto means “in practice.” In the San Francisco Unified School District, the de facto segregation of people with different racial back- grounds is startling. Instead of one homogenous color, the map shows distinctly different areas populated by one group of people.
SI is predominantly caucasian, but perhaps our racial gap is closing.
Despite the diversity SI preaches, SI’s community does not have the same diversity present in San Francisco. The numbers from the most recent census and the demographics statistics page at SI paint two different pictures though SI bears some semblance to the community. SI is predominately white and fails to have the same number of minority students present in the greater community. This disparity falls in line with the “white flight” that occurred after the integration of public schools, as Caucasian parents sought to avoid public schools with higher levels of minor- ity students.
Within the community itself there is some mixing of people, but clear division exists be- tween student groups. Coming into the school, my tour leader told me only minorities hang out in Magis and white kids can’t go in there. This was not an isolated experience, as this perception still exists. At lunch, students generally self-segregate. I find it hilarious that photographers stage photos showcasing diversity instead of capturing the natural environment. During one lunch period, I saw a yearbook photographer select students of different races and then proceed to tell them to stand together and look happy. I couldn’t help but laugh at the staged photo. By the time senior year rolls around, this divisiveness dissipates somewhat with time as new groups of friends form.
With our values in mind, do we do enough to practice what we preach? There are no clean- cut solutions to a problem of this magnitude, which has been ingrained in the foundation of our society. The community should drive out the elephant in the room: white flight and de facto segregation. While we do an average job at including diversity in SI, a community based on “with and for others” should be a pioneer in crafting a better future in regards to race equality.
San Francisco is predominantly white, followed by Asians and Hispanics
Choose groups to clone to: