It may be easy to make the assumption that in the 21st Century there is no longer racial tension and that Americans have moved on from the problem of racial segregation and racism. It is masked by the fact that America has a colored president, and more colored individuals have taken up opportunities, there are intermarriages between the races and more freedoms and equality than ever. However, the experience among the young people and also the dispositions and behaviors indicated among the young people more so in high schools tend to disagree with the notion (Ortiz and Santos). The fact that the social groupings and racial identity among the students are indicated by the high level of clusters among individuals based on their ethnic affiliation is alarming in a generation that is perceived to be more open minded and accommodating than any other. Schools are witnessing students of each racial grouping engaging in similar activities and also forming their cliques and social spheres. It is a phenomenon that is also present in a major way in correctional facilities churches and other social gatherings. Therefore, there is still a form of racial tension and that among Americans, racial identity is a significant factor in choosing their social groupings.
One the major causes of the formation of social identities and also that have encouraged the continued racial tension among the teenage Americans is the fact that there is a perceived need for social conformity among individuals. As the students grow up, they are socialized and also see from their parents the sense of social cohesion that exists among the different races. For example, there are various associations and grouping specifically set aside to support people of a specific race. It is more among the formerly marginalized groupings such as the African Americans who feel the need to support one another in a bid to make it in the White-dominated society (Chao and Otsuki-Clutter). The students grow up attending churches and other social gatherings that emphasize the need for conformity into the racial groupings for support and security. It is this that is translated in schools making the students form racial cliques to “look out” for one another (Tatum, 776). Secondly, there is still a sense of anxiety and suspicion present among individuals across the racial divide. The African Americans may feel that they need to remain vigilant to avoid reverting to the segregation and discrimination they faced whereas the whites may feel threatened by the African American’s involvement in all spectrums and also may feel as though there may be shifts in dynamics (Chao and Otsuki-Clutter). As a result, the whites may want to remain united to avoid being overtaken by the minority races whereas the minority unites to make the bond stronger. Thirdly, some of the parents may feel as though the realities of racial differences in the country may be too damaging to their children and therefore intend to protect them at all cost. It is this that leads to encouraging them to stick with members if their race for support and insulation from the harsh realities of racial differences. Moreover, the issue of racism may also lead to the fear of being branded as a racist and is, therefore, most present among the white children that fear to interact with the colored students for fear of being branded racist (Chao and Otsuki-Clutter).
Some students prefer staying within their racial groupings so as to avoid the consequences that come with being racist. There is still a lack of free talk on the issue of racism, and therefore, one may fear to say or to act in a way possibly interpreted as racist. Therefore, prefer staying within their comfort zones provided by their racial grouping (Tatum, 779). Another major reason why the students stay within the grouping is the kind of socialization that they receive from their parents and the society in general. As the students grow up, they learn from the adults and also hear what they the society holds coupled with the stereotypes regarding the other races. As a result, they may form perceptions that may be ill-informed leading to the segregation tendencies (Ortiz and Santos). There is also a lack of sufficient awareness of the racial differences that the students being majorly in their adolescent are grappling with at the time. It is because racism is kept as an issue that majority of adults prefer to remain silent about instead of enlightening the younger generations on how to go beyond the stereotypes and the racial differences. They have, therefore, not yet developed the skills and tools necessary to deal with the racial differences they experience (Tatum, 782).
Out of a personal experience, as Tatum indicates, high schools experience the racial divides in a major way. It is because, there are strongly held stereotypes, and presumptions about individuals of varying races and individuals may make judgments on a person basing it on what they have seen, experienced or heard in other quotas. The presence of shows, celebrity cliques and even some songs and films that encourage racial separation has also had a significant influence in the way students form social relationships.
There is a need for the students to learn more on the issues of racism so as to develop the skills and equip them with the tools to deal with racial differences (Tatum, 784). It is because, individuals of various cultural backgrounds are bound to have some differences such an accents, the style of doing things and also their belief systems. It is, therefore, imperative to create channels that enable the students to have a global and diversified mindset whereby they are more accommodating of the variations among individuals. Being informed will lead to open-mindedness that in turn will result to curbing the racial tension among the students while at the same time reduce the racial divide while forming social relationships.
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