On a recent ECHO survey, one student said, “No one’s racist at this school.”
This statement is completely false. Webster Groves High School, like other schools, has had racism since the day its doors opened.
The 1966 documentary “16 in Webster” said “Webster Groves is six square miles of the American dream.” It was and still is the American dream- for Caucasian residents and students.
In the film, no black students were in any organizations except football. Cheerleading for black women was not an option because it was based off “image.”
About hanging out with black students, one student in the film said, “A couple of those guys…wanted to go out on a double date or something like that; my father for one wouldn’t let me, and I really don’t think that I’d want to.”
Races were separate but not equal 50 years ago. The racism was something that was seen as normal and not called out on, but it has been 50 years since “16 in Webster,” and the same underlying racist ideologies still remain throughout the halls.
Fifty years later, minorities still feel as if they’re targeted based on their skin tone. The only difference now is racism is unacceptable, but still blatant.
About racism in the school, freshman Carlos Byrd, a Hispanic student said, “Most of it was during election season with many students asking, for example, ‘Did you have to climb over the wall to get to school today’ or shouting ‘get deported’ in my face. Although this has died down, it still happens occasionally.”
“It makes me feel furious, but I neither want to get in trouble for lashing back or to stoop to their level by insulting them back. I just tried to bottle it up until I found something that I could take it out on. I had trouble actually paying attention in class because of this,” Byrd said.
An ECHO survey revealed 76.1 percent of 73 student respondents have seen or experienced racism at the school, while 90.4 percent believe there may be white supremacists and/or Neo-Nazis at Webster. These statistics are surreal.
Anyone who identifies him/herself as an ally, a feminist, or a friend of any person of color must stand up when racist comments are made. White silence is consent, and right now, most students are consenting to the oppression that students of color must endure while attending school.
Mexican-American junior Sophia Gotto said, “A boy in my Spanish class told me, ‘Trump will put you back in the fields and back in the kitchen where you belong.’”
It is no longer the 1950s: the year is 2018. People of all colors, religions and sexualities are becoming more accepted in the world, but there is still hatred everywhere. Webster has the chance to make the school a place where prejudice no longer resides.
As Nelson Mandela once said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Students must learn to fill themselves with kindness instead of hatred. There was a time when students were taught that Christopher Columbus was a hero. The same students now recognize the seemingly great acts he committed were evil. Students must be educated more on topics regarding race and oppression in order for them to be less oppressive to others.
About speaking up, Gotto said, “Students…say something, please say something. There have been incidents where students feel scared or afraid to fight back, so their issues with it never get reported. No one should feel scared when they are wronged in a situation.”
The school and its students have come a long way since 50 years ago, but more has to be done to empower students of color and become a place of acceptance. The students at Webster Groves can be better. Webster Groves can be better.
Another student response from the survey said, “Racism has been around…forever, if we don’t change that soon, it will be around forever longer.”
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