The Good, the Bad and What We Could Be

Dylan Kull, Guest Writer

NTK! We hate those wealthy, white, ignorant jerks! They are the bad guys, and in this rivalry that we have, that makes us the good guys, right?

For as long as our schools have existed, that has been the rhetoric. When my parents attended ETHS, the context of the rivalry was black and white, literally. Football players were spit on and the racial slurs hit harder on the field than any lineman. 30 years later, the rivalry lives on and we as Evanstonians grow up knowing that they are the snotty rich antagonists in this 80s movie-esque high school fantasy we live out in our athletics. As I got older and I witnessed and fought in my fair share of our Wildkit/Trevian battles, I found myself feeling uneasy about the rivalry. It certainly had nothing to do with New Trier; I have as much disdain for them as anyone. No, my problem was with us.

The moment I realized just what that problem was occurred at this year’s football game at New Trier. We had a fairly large student section for an away game and, I won’t sugarcoat it, we were choking. By the half, we in the student section began to feel just as hopeless as our players looked. The bad guys were beating us, just as they have for so many years. It wasn’t fair. The good guys are supposed to win. So when New Trier’s halftime show began, and their dance team took the field, the entire student section turned their backs to the field. I did not. I was, in all honesty, disgusted by this. I was extremely uncomfortable amongst the very palpable disrespect. If we were supposed to be the good guys, we sure weren’t acting like it.

This incident led me to reflect on a much larger issue that Evanston faces, one that has nothing to do with the Trevians. Evanston has a superiority complex. For a while, it showed itself most in the “Evanston is so diverse” claim. Now it has become very popular to say “Evanston thinks it is so diverse, but it really isn’t.” This could be seen as our student body finally starting to become more socially conscious and aware of our town’s faults, which is true, but if every Evastonian makes the claim that Evanston isn’t as diverse as we think it is, does Evanston really think it is diverse? I believe the reason why so many of us make that statement is because of this superiority complex which has become, well, more complex. No longer is Evanston better than everywhere else, but Evanstonians are better than Evanstonians!

This mentality persists in our “woke” culture at Evanston. We are obsessed with becoming socially and politically conscious, which is great! Everyone should make the effort to educate themselves as much as possible, but the way you carry yourself when you have that knowledge is just as important as having it. There is a sense of arrogance surrounding the “woke” ETHS community. The word itself implies an intellectual superiority over others. Students who are less educated, less conscious, or even just have dissenting opinions are looked down upon. There are many “woke” students at ETHS who are exceptions to this, but a lot of the time, Evanstonians like to claim they are woke because it makes them feel superior to others. It is why we think we are better than New Trier and it has become the reason that our position as the “good guys” isn’t so clear anymore.

My point is this: being “woke” is not enough. Educating yourself and being aware is great and should be something everyone strives for, but if you are “woke” and not a good human being, you still aren’t a good human being. We need to think about the way we conduct ourselves. We need to think about how we treat and perceive others. Evanstonians: we have a choice. We can remain arrogant in our wokeness, or we can strive to be better humans all around. Let’s match our social awareness with our character, let’s make the  “Wildkit Way” actually mean something.