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Communication between races can improve cultural understanding

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Marcus is one of the least diverse high schools in the district with almost a 75 percent white student body, compared to 42.6 percent white, district wide. This lack of diversity can lead to less understanding of other races.

Dr. Tracy Everbach, UNT journalism professor, teaches about race and gender and said that when a school has a dominant racial culture, minority students may feel pressure to conform, rather than celebrate their diversity. She said it’s important to get to know people who are from different cultures.

“If you’re not exposed to people who are not like you, how can you begin to try to understand them?” Everbach said.

“If you’re not exposed to people who are not like you, how can you begin to try to understand them?” ”

— Dr. Tracy Everbach

Senior Myles Wheeler also sees the importance of understanding people of all races. He wrote an essay for the annual North Texas Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration in which he addresses the need to see each other’s differences as positives rather than negatives so people can come together as a community.

“In the real world, you’re going to deal with different people from different backgrounds, religions and races,” Wheeler said. “Cultural awareness is very important. It should be emphasized in schools so you can understand the different backgrounds that people are coming from and that not everyone is a certain way just because they’re a certain color.”

Everbach said that in an area like Flower Mound, it’s important to recognize that white people have received certain advantages, like in the workplace, and college admissions, that people of color have not. This is commonly called white privilege.

“It’s the way that our society is structured and unless you make a conscious effort to acknowledge it, to try to do something about these stereotypes to change your way of thinking, it will always persist this way and it’s not intentional,” Everbach said.

In our round table discussion, senior Matt Spence said he recognizes that historically white people have been favored in the college admissions process. He said that not understanding white privilege can make it harder to see that programs like affirmative action are in place to help students of color, not take away from white students’ accomplishments.

“White privilege is when you want to blame your shortcomings on other people’s race,” Spence said. “That’s just so messed up to me.”

Everbach said it’s also important to be cautious of stereotyping. Although there may be no malintent with comments like “you’re articulate for a black girl,” it assumes that all people of color subscribe to certain characteristics. Senior Taylor Miller said her friends have said to her, “you talk white” several times.

“I’m not a stereotype to what black people wear or how black people talk,” Miller said. “I talk like I go to school like the rest of you guys go to school.”

One of the best ways to become aware of one’s privilege, Everbach says, is to talk to people of other races.

“I think it’s important to have conversations about it,” Everbach said. “Before I became a researcher in this area, I learned a lot just from talking to friends who were people of color about their experiences.”

She said that acknowledging the different experiences that other racial groups go through is an important first step for understanding each other.

“I think it’s really important especially for students, high school or college students, to talk to people who are not like you and ask them about their experiences,” Everbach said.

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Communication between races can improve cultural understanding