Why does this happen? The United States has a long history of housing segregation which has led to de facto segregation in schools. Since friendship is largely determined by proximity, it’s not surprising that this phenomenon occurs. Even in racially diverse schools, systemic tracking of students often lead to alienation and pitting of one group of students against another. Students of color often choose to come together as a form of protection from prejudice and rejection.
This episode led to my own reflection about the people who I call friends, both growing up in school, and as an adult. I know that there are friendships that I have been able to maintain because we have a sense of shared history and understanding. Some friendships have developed due to proximity or activities in common. There are other friendships that I’ve had to work harder to cultivate because we come from different backgrounds and might have differing worldviews.
In what ways have you been able to create safer and more equitable schools so that our students feel open to reaching across racial lines? How can we lay a foundation for learning about each other when the curriculum does not reflect the students we work with? Please share the work that you’ve done in your school settings!