Rajon Staunton: Opinions & Concerns

Belonging to a marginalized group of students can mean many things, especially when growing up in a community where there is a clear racial divide and deep-rooted racial and religious tension. There is always this oppressive feeling that no matter what you may accomplish, a good sum of the population will never acknowledge you or your accomplishments simply because of your skin color, religion, or sexual orientation. This subtle, yet harsh racism is magnified by 100% when it is observed on the high school level.
As a Black honors student, I am constantly receiving awkward stares from teachers as I walk into their honors or Advanced Placement courses, but I am welcomed in my basic level electives, because that’s where I am expected to be. I boast a 4.3 grade point average and a plethora of clubs and extracurriculars, yet all I will ever be to some of administration and staff at my school is the color of my skin. One example of this happened during my ninth grade year when I was scheduling for the following year. I had signed up for all honors courses and one Advanced Placement course at which, upon looking at my scheduling sheet, the administrator in charge of scheduling for me inquired, “Are you positive that you want this difficult of a schedule? We have some really awesome programs at our trade school down the hill.” I was slightly confused, but I let the situation go with a simple, “Yes, I’m sure.” I then witnessed another student (a non minority), go in there with the same schedule choices and receive no questions or inquiries from the same administrator. The only difference between them and myself; I am a Black student. This seems to happen year after year yet, no attention to how degrading it is to any minority students who want to succeed in their lives, that the administration of their own high school does not hold them to high enough standard to believe that they can.

I witness the impact of racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and transphobia everyday from all aspects. In just your average day at Woodrow Wilson, you are guaranteed to hear countless racial and religious slurs being thrown around relentlessly to no intervention of any, except a select few, members of the staff or of the administration. My school tends to be a breeding ground for this kind of discriminatory action, and often times, the administration fails to realize this or provide any kind of counter action. I have witnessed this from numerous staff and administration and like all other forms of oppressive action, the impact is felt around the school. From actions such as creating a segregated bathroom for transgender students, to NOT allowing same-sex date to escort each other on various courts, everyone at Woodrow Wilson High School is somewhat unaware of their blatant disregard for the marginalized groups within the walls of the school.

This is not to say that all administration is negligent towards the issues bearing down on the student body, but the ones who are aware of it tend to lack the appropriate disciplinary action to those students who do violate policies on bullying, among other things. School should never be a place of which students are fearful to be, but the sad reality is that in my school and schools around the country like mine, minority students and marginalized groups do not feel the same sense of safety and security that the vast majority of students do. I would like to see fair and just treatment for minorities within the walls of Woodrow Wilson High School; which honestly should go unsaid, but instance after instance we are ignored.