By: Augustin Liu
I go to Staples High School in Westport, Connecticut. This is a school that enrolls approximately 88% Caucasian students (High). I am not doubting there is racism in Staples but it is very subtle and more hidden than full-out discrimination. Last year in 8th grade, I watched a documentary called “Mississippi Prom Night.” It was about the prom in Charleston High School in Charleston, Mississippi. In 2008, they held their first racially integrated prom. Before then, the school had always had a white prom and a black prom. Even on prom night, many white students went to a private white-only prom that their parents helped create for them. I specifically remember an interview with a father of a Caucasian girl who was dating a black boy in the documentary and how he told the interviewers that he would not allow his daughter to date the black boy because that was wrong and they would go to hell. I then did research on the racial percentages of Charleston High, and I was surprised of the data I found. The data showed me that Charleston High enrolled only 28% Caucasian students, meaning that the minorities in the school were the majority (High). How could a school with more minorities than Caucasians be so much more racist than Staples, a predominantly Caucasian school with only 12% minorities? How does the community and the environment in which someone have grown up in affect the prejudice and racism they will have in the future?
According to U.S. News, 86% of Charleston High School students are economically disadvantaged (students with free or reduced lunches) compared to only 4% of Staples High School students (High). Does poverty affect racism? The FBI 2008 Hate Crime Report shows that the states with the highest hate crimes to population ratio are New Jersey, Florida, and South Dakota (Hate). The 2013 Community Survey made by the US Census Bureau tells me that New Jersey had a poverty rate of 11-12.9%, Florida had a rate of 16-17.9%, and South Dakota had a rate of 13-15.9%. These percentages are all higher than Connecticut's, less than 11% poverty rate (Bishaw). I can therefore come to the conclusion that poverty is correlated to the amount of racism and prejudice someone will show in the future. Does parents and friends’ racism level affect one’s own?