Diversity in our Community

Karina Patterson, Editor

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In April, the Eagle handed out questions regarding diversity and other topics both within the walls of EHS and in general. We got many insightful responses, and we would like to thank everyone who responded and participated. When we handed these questions out, there was the following introduction for our students and staff: “We are a proud, diverse community. For this next edition of the EHS newspaper, we are looking for all perspectives on various topics such as religion, ethnicity, immigration etc. It is vital that as a student body and staff, all voices are heard. During this time in our history, there are many controversial issues regarding the way people lead their personal lives. We want to remind all that we are an accepting community no matter one’s race, gender, sexuality or religion. We invite you to write a response to one or more of the questions provided or create a response all your own about anything you feel needs to be expressed (in an appropriate manner). We are eager for your response(s) and do not require a name given although you are welcome to provide one.” This introduction (along with set one of our questions) was handed out to each homeroom on March 28, 2017. The questions were handed out in sets to students over the course of four days, two each day. The questions were:

In regards a specific question about recent executive orders and current cultural climate towards Muslims, the majority of responses were against the serious islamophobia occurring both in our community and the country as a whole. Some relate this to the Trump administration taking office and his passing of his “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” popularly known as the Muslim Ban. One student stated, “…I feel as though it is a direct attack on Muslims…” and another, “I think the current state of our country, is horrible.” Many regarded this ban as a very degrading act. Some acknowledged that yes, some terrorists identify as Muslim but that does not mean that Muslims are exclusively terrorists, “Just because some are bad doesn’t mean all are. Everyone’s different accept them.”. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those students who responded in favor of the Muslim Ban and agree with the treatment of Muslims in our country today. One student regarded it as “great” and another, “I feel the travel ban was a must in this time of conflict”. Some believe that this ban will keep US citizens safe because, “the boston bombers had ties to terrorist cells but we (the us) allowed them into our country without care or questions and look what happened.” It was stated that this ban is not nearly as bad as what happened to Japanese citizens during WWII so this ban is, “a fair precaution for the United States…”. Out of the 27 responses to this first question, there were three who supported with this Muslim ban, all others condemned it.

The second question was about religion and based on the responses, many people came about answering this question at several perspectives. Some people stated that yes, religion is a big part of their life but that does not necessarily mean that it is for everyone. There were fourteen responses in all and several agreed that there was always a sense of acceptance towards all religions. However, one response stated that currently, this student sees, “the new America where we are now excluding peoples from the joy of freedom just because they believe in something that others don’t…”. During current times, four students seemed to be an agreement that if you are not of a certain religion, you are different and you are persecuted for it. One student even went as far as saying that a difference in beliefs is what is causing all the wars occurring today. The subject of atheism was also brought up. One student wrote, “to some people, this word is just as bad of a word as much of the slander out there today. But in reality, this word simply means lack of belief in a god or gods which is not a bad thing.”. Based off of both this question and the previous question about the Muslim ban, it seems to be that there is definite separation occurring in our country today.

The third question was very straightforward and as were the answers. This past election has definitely been talked about for quite some time and now, the new presidential administration as well. There were several students who have grown tired of talking of such politics, “I DON’T CARE ABOUT THE RECENT ELECTION! CAN WE STOP TALKING ABOUT IT???”. Others have rejoiced in the outcome of the election, one student stated, “Now I have a role model” another wrote, “I was very happy Trump won”. Whereas there were some students who felt negatively impacted by the election. Several expressed their concerns for women’s rights, one student exclaimed that they felt that they (women’s rights) were moving backwards, not forwards. Another student expressed her fear that women may lose the right to chose what happens to their bodies and is worried about the current president being openly sexist and racist. Sadly, this is yet another issue that is dividing not only our school, but our whole country.

In regards to being a minority at EHS and feeling accepted, the answers were pretty close. The majority stated that they did feel accepted at EHS. However, one answer stated that even though EHS seems welcoming at first, this student no longer feels welcomed at EHS and feels that many people are quite mean to them. There were even some answers that stated that there is no such thing as a minority, “it is all fake.”.

The next question, regarding diversity, is quite interesting because we (the newspaper club) handed it out the morning of the walkout. This walkout was set into action in response to too many acts of hate in our school, particularly racism. However, out of the few responses we received, there were no negative views on diversity in our community. Students either felt that views on diversity would stay the same or it would only improve from here on out. Given that we only received four responses to this question, this of course does not accurately speak for all students. But since that day, March 30, it is a wonder how those four students who responded would respond now; after the walkout and recent, blatant acts of racism in our school.

The previous question, in a sense, goes hand in hand with the sixth question regarding the level of closeness in our community as the outcome of the recent presidential election. Again, we only received four responses. Some students felt that we are going to grow farther apart because of the divide of opinions on our current president. One student stated that instead of fighting each other, we must fight, “against racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia together”.

There are many sports teams and school mascots based off of “Indians” which portrays the culture in a stereotypical fashion: the painted face and the large feather headband. Lately, there has been some controversy on whether it is okay for such teams and schools to display Native Americans in such a way so we asked for the students opinions. One student stated that, “As long as the mascot isn’t derogatory, and shows Native Americans in a positive light rather than a demeaning one, I think it’s fine.” and another said, “I don’t care because it is history but should not be racist”. Unfortunately, this particular history is indeed, racist. Many Natives have expressed their concern for such mascots and how it is harmful to their culture because they came about in a time where racism towards Native Americans was tolerated. The NCAI (The National Congress of American Indians) states, “…these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.” One student response expressed their concern for these mascots and, like the NCAI, the image it paints of Native Americans. They stated, “…if there were a sports team with a clearly racist figure as the mascot, there would be national outrage but because such derogatory images of Native Americans have become commonplace, most people look right past this act of pure racism.”

The last question loops back to whether students feel safe in voicing their opinion in our community. The majority of the several responses we received felt safe. It was stated that there are civil discussions held about today’s politics, even with people voicing an opposing opinion so it is safe to voice whichever perspective you take. One student expressed that they did not feel safe communicating his opinion on politics today because, “In this day and age, white males can’t have opinions.”

Again, the newspaper club would like to thank everyone who participated in this school wide survey.