From diverse to divided

We only think we’ve been divided on our socio-economic backgrounds, political views and ethnicity. But the reality is, we might be divided because we choose to be self-segregated. Self-segregation is so blatantly obvious that we often don’t notice it.

As an international student, the picture of an American classroom was one where I’d engage across a line of difference. Where people would be willing to go outside their comfort zone and discover new cultures and identities. I thought diversity united Americans. After all, this is what the American dream was: to come from all corners of the world to stand under one flag, be one, and build a united community of a diverse cultural blend. With this vivid picture in my mind, I stepped into “the land of opportunity”. However, I was proven wrong. Diversity was dividing Americans in the form of self-segregation. The struggle to find friends and a community was hard because people had their close-knit circles, carefully tightened to barricade them from incoming strangers. Self-segregation isn’t necessarily bad, it’s good to stay safe and in your own culture, but to bind yourself with unspoken boundaries isn’t smart either.

Sociologists, particularly Marxists, use the term “reification”, which essentially is a process by which social relations are perceived as inherent attributes of the people involved in them, or attributes of some product of the relation, such as a traded commodity. Marxists, reification is like an unspoken rule of our society. This happens when people build invisible walls around them. Leading us to the bigger picture of Self-Segregation. Where we fail to understand the problems other communities go through because of the lack of communication. Movements like Black Lives Matter, those against Islamophobia and pro-LGBTQ communities are just some of the examples of how we fail to comprehend the magnitude of damage that other communities have faced. It is simply too much for them to understand because it goes against their concept of differentiation.

“We do have a racial self-segregation problem because many international and local students tend to hangout within their own communities, with people who speak the same language and are from the same background,” Francis Chu, the Vice President of the International Club, commented. “It simply is easier for them [international students] to bond with people with the same culture and problems.” Chu also spoke about plans to bring everyone together.

“This is where we step in. We want Skyline College to be a community in whole,” Chu said. “The international food festival is approaching soon. We plan to bring everyone together through food.”

Adjusting to a new environment becomes hard for people without friends. Socializing and networking is a key to success. A lot of teenagers, especially those that come from underdeveloped or war-stricken countries, are required to spend a tremendous amount of energy just to create the impression that they are likely to prove to be a positive addition. This hits like a blow to their self esteem, confidence and their ability to trust people.

Skyline has been working on that. They recently planned a welcome bonfire at the beach by the international students programs-which had a good turnout. Students met people other than their classmates and got a chance to interact with them.

Having no friends at school can affect mental health and one’s progress at school. Statistics show an estimated 40% of students who begin college don’t graduate from their initial school within six years, while some take longer or transfer to a different institution. Skyline offers psychological services in the Health and Wellness Center and they also have referrals to off-campus resources.

We’re a generation that has seen racial profiling, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, demographic origins, lingual discrimination and ethnicity. With all that, ask yourself: do we need self-segregation?

It’s hard to see why self-segregation still exists in our diverse society and self-segregation is a problem in its own right, but With that being said, let’s be responsible enough to play as a diverse society and not a divided one.