I didn't think much of it when I searched through these brown skinned guys lockers for my wallet.
I didn't think much of it when the next day, a security guard told me he had found a wallet lying on the ground, somewhere between the pool and the locker room.
If you asked me, I could tell you what color the sky was the first time I kissed a girl.
I still remember what I was wearing when I got my first C in a class.
I couldn't tell you what I was wearing, or the color of the sky every day when I walked into class and didn't notice the one ostracized kid in every class.
Or that she was black.
I can tell you that I'm Chinese, a guy, born in Massachusetts, got all As in high school, am going to college, and that my parents are proud of me.
But I can't tell you what it's like to have a Latino or Hispanic person in my English class, because there weren't any. There're 300 Latino students at my school.
It would take me about a thousand pages to explain to you what it's been like to attend Mountain View High School. And if I had written the book a year ago, there'd be zero on the achievement gap between races.
I was a soulless GPA monger, and I wanted to get into college, and... and... and. Yeah. You know what I'm like. I'm the asshole that was in your high school class that wouldn't help anyone else... the guy who aced every test... the COLLEGE ORIENTED.
So here's the deal - the scoop: life is fucked. Some people have it easier than others. But it is ATROCIOUS what the California Education System (and the students at some of these schools...) is doing to students. ABSOFUCKINGLUTELY atrocious.
At my school, if there're 400 students in every incoming class, about 200 take Geometry and do fine in HS. The other 200 take Algebra 1, and the passing rate of that class (C- or above) is 50%. That's right, 100 students get a D or F... which basically means they need to retake the course if they want to get into a 4 year college. (Why not a two-year Junior College? Because a 2 year junior college has like a 15% graduation rate.)
So these students who take Algebra 1 and fail it... they're mostly brown. Mostly poor. Most likely have parents who didn't go to college. These are the students who went to the poor elementary school, the poor middle school, and come into Algebra 1 not knowing how to add fractions, or long divide. They're offered minimal outside resources to catch up... and that's just how it goes.
I've been taught that education is the way to succeed, that school is the great equalizer. I believe firmly that no matter what your background, you should be able to succeed in K-12 education. I've been raised to understand that the schools I have attended ALLOW students to succeed, so long as they're willing to put in the time and effort.
But I'm wrong. And you know why I'm wrong? Because we're self-segregated from the beginning. Because all the well-off kids, they have friends who're well-off. Because when a Latino or Black kid comes into an AP or Honors class... they get looked at like they're stupid. They get treated as if they can't perform as well as the other, non-Latino or Black students. They... just get treated differently. Like the black girl in my classes... she was eyed by every single person while we were reading Huck Finn.
And I went on for three and a half years in high school thinking everything at school was nice and dandy. I went on grouping up with my friends during class, oblivious to those who were being left out. And I justified it by saying... "I need to do my homework." And the scary thing is, I wouldn't have a problem with my kid doing this, what I selfishly did. Which was put homework before everything else.
So I put homework before everything else.
And (not) ironically, the college I'm going to has 90% from in-state, and has a student population of 4% Latinos and 3.3% Blacks... none from my school.