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Proud of My Ethnicity This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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I am an African-American female. I have grown up exposed to people of many ethnicities and have been taught to accept all. I have had the amazing opportunity of attending a high school that is diverse ethnically and socio-economically.

Despite the fact that my school is diverse, this is not represented in my advanced classes. This racial divide has not affected me academically; I maintained a challenging course load and high honor roll status during my four years. However, I was affected socially by the underrepresentation of students of color in my AP classes.

Some minority students thought that my achievements meant I betrayed my ethnic identity. They had a skewed opinion of what it means to be black and could not imagine that a black student could speak properly and be in “smart” classes without “acting white.” I was constantly confronted with the statement that I acted white. I could not understand why they considered hard work and determination to succeed as white traits. It was hard, at times, to ignore the hurtful comments of peers. I was merely being myself and trying to achieve my goals. I loved my identity and was proud of my ethnicity. It was extremely hurtful for people to judge me without even knowing me.

Many of these students grew up in households where educational excellence was not stressed in the same manner as it was in mine. Additionally, the media often portray people of color as gangsters, entertainers, and athletes, not as intelligent people or scholars. Beverly Tatum in her book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, writes, “Blacks have historically been characterized as less intelligent than whites … The dominant group assigns roles to the subordinates that reflect the latter’s devalued status … To the extent that the targeted group internalizes the images that the dominant group reflects back to them, they may find it difficult to believe in their own ability.” This realization made me want to work even harder in my classes.

As my course work became more challenging, I always thought of the offensive stereotype that African-American students could not be as smart as white students. It made me work harder. I wanted to show my fellow students of color that they too could challenge themselves intellectually and prove to themselves (and others) that these negative stereotypes are false.

I learned not to change my values because of others’ influence. I know now that it is important never to lose sight of your goals, even if others disapprove of them. If I had taken the hurtful remarks to heart, I might not have continued to work hard and achieve academically.

I have tried to be a leader. I have assisted other students in the classroom when they needed help. I have been co-captain of the girls’ soccer team. I have been a voice for the student body as its president. Now I want to become an advocate to help minority students achieve in the classroom. Everyone should have the same opportunity to succeed academically, no matter who they are.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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Shinjitsu-san said...
Mar. 2, 2012 at 9:36 pm

You have just described my life. I am an African-American student in a predominantly white school as well, and I face many of the same problems. However, rather than my white classmates feeling that I act white or cannot achieve as much as them, they say the stupidest things, words filled with prejudice and racism, all without knowing. They think being African-American is about having a "black" name, or not speaking proper English, or being like one of those actors/singers/dancers they see on... (more »)

 
Joele12 said...
Jun. 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm
Theat is correct. I have the same problem. But you have to understand where they come from. physco diagnose them. If you were born in the ghetto and were raised as they are, would you criticise without thinking about it? they do as they were told. but i'm not agreeing with what they do. I strongly disagree. i'm studying japanese and i'm of a mixed black denmark asian and jew background, but my skin is "black" i don't speak "gangsta" so they just call me the oreo black on the outside white on the... (more »)
 
nnc97 said...
Apr. 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm
 I am an African American teen that attends a white school. I attend a predominantly black church and have many black friends. I am always judged according to my 4.0 grade point average, or my success in taking the ACT. I am always being judged on the way I talk or read. It is often said that I dont accept the fact that I am black. This false statement/ opinion is what makes me push myself into being successful. I want for not only the black race, but also all other races and ethnicities to... (more »)
 
Lissabelle116 said...
Mar. 18, 2011 at 8:24 pm
In my school if an asian student doesn't do an extra credit, or doesn't turn in an assignment. people call them "un-Asian"
 
fire_ice4ever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm
I once got a B+ on a Science quiz and the class started yelling Asian fail...it happens to people all the time. 
 
fire_ice4ever This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm
We're a predominantly an Asian/Indian/White school...
 
Macx14 said...
Sept. 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm
All ethnicities have the capability of being intelligent, caring, and beautiful no matter who, what, where, why or how. It's a disgrace whenever anyone says otherwise.
 
HuntressEmma replied...
Sept. 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm
I hate it when people are oriented around one ethnic culture and have no respect for others. I think other ethnics are extremely interesting and try to learn all I can about them. Truly I am angered about this and racist jokes.
 
Macx14 replied...
Sept. 30, 2010 at 3:26 pm
Exactly! Prejudice is an epidemic, no doubt.
 
peacelove041792 said...
Jul. 11, 2009 at 10:13 pm
I go through the same thing with my peers.
They constantly label me as being "white washed" because I carry myself with propriety, and I choose to advance instead of playing the victim.
Finally, someone I can relate to :)
 
sunshine101 said...
Feb. 20, 2009 at 3:57 am
Hi i am from Asia and i get what you were writing was so true everyone thinks that if your from Asia then your going to be super smart.Everyone gets bad marks sometimes but in my schools if you get one bad mark they will gasp. If you are in drama and pretend that you made a mistake e.g you drank a chemical because you thought it was a drink people will laugh and you won't understand why until they say "because they're asian"
 
Classy n Sassy said...
Oct. 9, 2008 at 6:17 pm
I luv this article.....For homework i have 2 choose an article n i chose this one.....I agree with everything Kalila H. had 2 saii.....im very intelligent but because i am of the African-American desent people think otherwise.....well whoever thinks that way is wrong nd i am PROUD!!!
 
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