Education is considered the most important part ofa young person's life. Education leads to a good job and countless luxuries. Theschool systems of the United States have curricula students must"learn" in order to be promoted to higher grades. Academic success is amust to become productive in the economy and in life. Students today face muchlarger problems than were faced by our teachers, most of whom are over the age of50 and have been living in the suburbs all their lives.
I am black andlive in the most crime-infested section of my city. On my block, crackheads roamthe streets attempting to sell telephones, TVs and VCRs in order to buy some"rocks." The most frequently asked question is, "Yo, you gottrees?" which is asking if you have marijuana to sell. I have cornrows anddress "urban," so the stereotype is automatically set. People assumeI'm a drug dealer, and when a police car drives by, the cop watches me like ahawk with his eyes on his prey.
When I go to school I feel like I'm in asafe environment; there are no real rivalries or "beefs" between blacksand whites. But the gap of social acceptance is much greater than we might think.My peers and I are not taught how to live in unity or not to stereotype others.
The school doesn't teach the white kids that every black kid you seewith cornrows and baggy clothing is not a drug dealer. It doesn't teach thatevery person is equal in our society.
The school doesn't teach the blackkids that you can make something of yourself by being something other than a drugdealer, being on TV or doing something that involves sports. They don't teach usto see ourselves not as a minority but as equals.
Most of my life I wastaught that if you do not dress, talk or act a certain way, you cannot maintain anormal status in society. The ironic thing is that the way people expect you toact, talk and dress is similar to that of white people, which is something Idon't understand. Sometimes I wonder why my intelligence is judged based on myclothing, hairstyle and skin color. Most people say this is not true, butevidently it is.
We as teens have succumbed to these stereotypes becausewe are not taught differently. America thinks that teaching us the periodic tableof elements and how to bisect angles and other information that we will probablynever use is more important. Probably 20 years from now things will not havechanged, but I'm hoping this one opinion of a 16-year-old high school student canchange the lives of future children going through this school system.
Mydream is similar to Martin Luther King, Jr.'s, but is the modern version whereall people would be judged by intelligence and not looks, skin color or otherridiculous stereotypes. Education should be more than just books, homework andtests.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.