Diversity club members discuss their views toward racial bullying, student acceptance of different ethnicities

Annie Matheis, News editor

How is Blue Valley accepting of other cultures?

Senior Rachael Mendez: I feel like we are a very accepting school, but some of the jokes people say, like, “You’re such an Asian,” and things like that, are not necessarily meant in a harmful or belittling manner, but some people would take them very offensively.

Senior Raven Brower: We are accepting, but we still follow stereotypes.

Junior Jessica Idowu: We don’t really ever acknowledge the other cultures, but nobody is discriminatory or anything like that.

How could Blue Valley become more accepting of other cultures?

RB: People need to be aware of what they are saying. Whereas you may be friends with people from many other cultures and may be accepting of that culture, they are still stereotyping and making jokes that aren’t appropriate.

What are incidents that come to mind when you see people stereotyping people like that?

RM: I think that people don’t realize, that in the Diversity Club, we are promoting the acceptance of different cultures, but also, different sexualities. Our school is not very accepting of people who are gay or lesbian. I feel like we need to be.

RB: And also religions.

What are you thoughts on the incident at the basketball game with Anthony Buffalomeat?

RB: Appalled.

RM: I think it is absolutely ridiculous. No matter how much the people at our school say they were not trying to be offensive. We are more mature than that. Words cannot describe how much that angered me.

RB: It was completely directed at the one kid.

RM: It is unbelievable. I cannot believe the people I go to school with would say such things.

Do you think most of the racial jokes are meant to be offensive?

RM: They are not meant to be offensive, but they are. People have asked me to have my dad go mow their lawns, and that offends me.

RB: While they think it is a joke.

JI: There are some people I know who joke about that kind of thing. I have never heard anything said with malice or anything that was meant to hurt the person.

What is the goal of Diversity Club?

RM: To celebrate our differences.

RB: Last year, Ms. Siam and I were talking about another Diversity Club that said they wanted to promote tolerance. But, we were talking about why you would just want to be tolerated.

RM: So acceptance versus tolerance.

JI: To try to make people more aware of the different cultures in the school.

What do you guys hope people will be able to take away from the Diversity Assembly this year?

RM: I think our goal is for Blue Valley to see how diverse our school actually is and how diverse their surroundings are.

JI: I hope people take away the fact that there are other cultures that are out there. You need to respect people who believe what they believe.

How do you think that will change Blue Valley?

RM: I hope it will get people interested in things like going to the Ethnic Festival and things like that.

Diversity Club Sponsor Manal Siam: Sometimes I think, especially when it comes to diversity, it doesn’t have to be about change. It is just being more aware. Being less ignorant and just more aware of what’s out there, what’s able to be accomplished.

Maybe things that someone could go to, maybe word choice people would be better tolerant of. And if some people so choose to change their ways, that’s awesome. But if people don’t change their ways, how diverse would BV be if we don’t accept that?

It is just making sure that people understand what the level of the things they are saying or doing or experiencing are, and if they can just advance in any little way, whether an inch, a mile, a yard or whatever the case may be.

As long as they can grow in some way, I think that seems like a better goal than anything. If someone can leave taking away more than they came in with. More knowledge, more acceptance or more awareness.

How does it make you feel when you hear racial jokes in the hallway?

RB: Not really angry, just disappointed.

RM: I get very angry when people use racial slurs to each other in a joking manner. Especially the n-word. I feel like their ignorance to the effect it has is what angers me, not necessarily that they are saying it.

MS: I think Rachael really hit it on the nose, it is just ignorance. Maybe I am giving them the benefit of the doubt, maybe I am assuming they are ignorant. I am just going to go in hoping that is all it is. Especially going back to the [basketball game] incident, I would love to think that our student body never meant malice, never meant anything bad. And if they did, that’s unfortunate. More than anything, I just feel sorry for the fact that someone can’t think beyond the ways that they are.

JI: I think it depends on who it is between. I know with certain friends, it is a joke between the friends. I guess people could be more careful about how they use it so flippantly, because a lot of people do use derogatory terms quite often.

What about the jokes that you hear do you find most offensive?

RB: When you are actually directing them at someone of that ethnicity.

MS: Anytime where a joke or a slur or a saying can make someone the target group, and someone else a not-target group.

RB: Like the incident at the basketball game. That was directed at one student and his culture. And that wasn’t okay.

What are some words that come to mind when you think of diversity, the tone of Blue Valley, the goal of your club and culture?

RM: Acceptance.

MS: Culturally responsive, and awareness.

RM: Ignorant.

MS: I would say it is a work-in-progress. I think no one is ever completely knowledgeable. I would like to think we are a work-in-progress.

RB: And willing.