Economically segregated communities are not diverse

Najiah Osborne-Francellno, Staff Writer

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Many individuals view Evanston as a diverse community. I am a Black female and I disagree with this notion entirely. I have lived in Evanston for 11 years, and I feel that Evanston is just becoming more and more segregated.

For a location to be considered a diverse community, everyone needs to feel comfortable with interacting freely. I myself have found it hard to interact with people outside of my race and social class. I can see why many people may feel as though Evanston is “diverse,” as you visually recognize different types of people from all different backgrounds such as race or religion.

However, it has become increasingly clear that this town has always been economically segregated. The question we need to be asking ourselves is, why do we allow our socioeconomic status to determine who we feel comfortable interacting with?  

Senior Nayla Watkins Johnson, who identifies as a Black female, explains that “many of us are closed minded. We feel intimidated to interact with each other because of our differences. If you look at our student section, you barely see any Black students.”

ETHS has a lot of activities and clubs students can get involved in. However, how inclusive are these clubs? The student section, also known as “Blue Crew,” is not the only student-ran activity where people see a lack of diversity.

The Evanstonian, an all student-ran club has been repeatedly called out for its lack of  diversity. As a community, we need to focus on how to further promote these clubs outside of our typical every day “friend groups.” It is important for students at ETHS to not only make new friends, but to include everyone. When we eliminate tension, discrmination, and intimidation that any student may feel upon joining these clubs and groups, this blatant exclusion will no longer be abruptly recognized. The stigma surrounding being wealthy and popularity has completely affected how we treat others, it has become a real problem.  

While people’s racial and religious backgrounds are common causes of general intimidation, certain acts of exclusion can be recognized by something as simple as the clothes you wear. If you don’t have the “latest trending item,” you are automatically less than another person. You feel limited to conversation with those outside of your racial and social class groups. This creates exclusion in the community.

Believe it or not, your socioeconomic status plays a big part in how you interact with others. Many students may have prejudice when it comes to those they surround themselves with.

Sophomore student Sidney Himel, who identifies as a white female, states that “Evanston is very separated. Even in school, everyone only hangs out with their race.”

I find it very odd how a community that is filled with so called “woke liberals,” don’t find it an issue that students are not socially integrated.

As a town, Evanston has failed to properly integrate minority families into affordable homes. Because of this, low-income families in Evanston will never be seen living in the same neighborhood as those who are wealthy.

Why do these families have to placed in a whole different part of Evanston? Isn’t the whole point of integration to bring people together? I myself live by the lake. I can definitely see the difference in neighborhoods because if you continue driving down my block, you will see a huge increase in mansions. I frequently ask myself, “Why didn’t we have the chance to live in those homes?”

Personally, I believe many minorities aren’t given the chance to move into these homes because these properties are generationally passed down and inherited by family members and the cycle continues. It is very rare to find minority families living in three story homes in Evanston, which is unfortunate. Economic segregation will never change if we don’t accept that it is an issue.  

In Evanston, if you are wealthy, you are privileged in many ways other than just housing. Many students who are considered upper class, most likely have had several years of extended education. These students end up being better candidates for AP or Honors classes here at ETHS. A divide is created amongst the community because not everyone is given the same chance at getting into these classes. While there are opportunities to earn honors credit, students still experience intimidation in these environments which makes it harder for minority students to want to take on that educational challenge. It is hard to feel like the only minority in a classroom. I am in multiple honors classes and sometimes it is harder for me to speak up in these environments because of judgment. As a community, we should be encouraging all students to challenge themselves and we need to develop a comforting learning environment in these advanced level classes.

I believe this is important because underprivileged minority students are being subject to feeling less than when in diverse communities we should feel like equals. We should not be able to allow our socioeconomic status take ahold of who we interact with. We are all people of the same town. When it comes to the issues we have in this world, we all claim to be so aware. But why is it that we are so blind to the issues that we have in our own community? Everyone is so brainwashed to the point that they don’t even have their own opinions anymore. We have been trained to think alike on the same issues; we have been trained to act like “liberals of society,” when really it is all an act.

We need to stop worrying about the issues in the world and try to make a difference in the environment we live in. We need to do more reflecting, accepting and talking, and a lot less flaunting. We keep trying to make it seem as if ETHS is the best school to attend than other schools which is extremely subjective. ETHS needs to make improvements for the better, not for the reputation.

As students of ETHS, it is important for us to take steps outside our comfort zones. Sitting with students you never sat with before at lunch or in class will make such a big difference. No community of people is ever going to be perfect, but there is always room for improvement. Economic segregation has caused our environment to become socially segregated therefore our community isn’t diverse.