“We can embrace whoever we are”

One day after class, I was prompted by a bearded intellectual to do something meaningful with my life. Through a Post-It note with illegible handwriting, I was ordered to explore how students and the greater community dealt with the shifting socioeconomic and ethnic makeup of CVHS.

Rather than taking on the impossible task of asking all the nearly 3,000 students at CVHS what they thought, I took a sample size of four students that consisted of a random white student, an African American student, an Asian American student and a student of mixed race.

To all of them, I straightforwardly asked “How are you dealing with the shifting socioeconomic and ethnic makeup of CVHS?”

“As for the shifting ethnic makeup of CVHS, I don’t really mind,” said Kyle Kole. “It’s a gradual change and it’s really hardly noticeable. It’s not like all the whites died and were replaced by black people.”

That is indeed true. Now that I think about it, when I was in elementary school I was one of three Asians in my fifth grade class. Now when I look at my class, I see a lot of them. We sit alphabetically in math class, and the rows go down like Lau, Lee, Lee, Lin, Lin, Liu, Liu, and then maybe ten students down there’s a last name like Meza.

“Well, it’s never only been a white man’s world. There’s always been diversity whether we’ve accepted it or not,” said Seamus Guerin. “It does seem though that time has progressed heretofore, the diversity has become more tolerated by everyone.”

Indeed it has become more tolerated. Going from a Castro Valley famous for KKK members and neo-Nazis like Shaun Walker who wrote for the Bay Aryan published by the Aryan Revolution Front in Castro Valley, to a Castro Valley where Asians, Hispanics, and African Americans can run for ASB, is a great improvement.

“Honestly, it has been difficult adapting to the change in demographics in terms of ethnicity as an African-American,” said Sam Ison. “I look around campus and look in my classes and I honestly feel like an ethnic minority. There may be two, maybe three African-Americans in a class. At least, this is what I have experienced.”

Perhaps CVHS is not as diverse as we thought.

“The effects of such drastic differences in ethnic population are an increased feeling of pressure as well as seclusion from the student population,” continued Ison. “No, our ethnicity is not what defines us as individuals; but it does, unfortunately, generally dictate how the world views us.

“Whenever anything racially based is mentioned in class and is even remotely related to African Americans, eyes turn to me,” Ison said. “I even receive stares of awe and confusion when people find I do not ‘act black,’ as if my ethnicity is defined by my personality or a personality defines an ethnicity.”

After hearing what Ison has had to say, I must admit that perhaps my sample size is not as random as I said it was. When I realized that I would need a quote from an African-American, Ison was the first and only one whose name popped into my head. He is definitely part of a very small minority at CVHS.

Finally, Trinity Bustria shared these thoughts.

“I personally feel that I am not accepted as being of partial Asian ancestry by some Asian Americans at CVHS unless I show some external proof that my dad is Asian,” Bustria said. “I most certainly have a place, but it would be nice if some were not so reluctant in accepting my claim of being half Asian.”

Here we see that a multiracial student has the desire to be recognized as part Asian, rather than part white. This is a sign that “fitting in” no longer means “be like white people.” It now means that we can embrace whoever we are and be ourselves.

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