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I write. I string words together like beads on a
thin length of fishing line, I fit syllables and vowels in ways that slide off tongues and splash like raindrops across the page. I write. Madeleine? She plays basketball. Marilyn loves her closet. Emma reads, and Lauren’s iPod is a permanent attachment. We are alike enough to get along and be friends, but different in every way else. Every day we go to a school that is sixty percent hispanic, eight percent black, twenty two percent white, and ten percent other. People think that is diversity.

But to the ones who sit every single day in the cafeteria with purple striped walls, to the ones who use the metallic blue lockers in the hallway with locks that jam and textbooks that smell funny, diversity is a corrupted term. People spent years trying to accomplish what we walk into Monday through Friday. They spent decades trying to mix the races, they spent life times trying to diversify the United States and public education. People and parents look in through thick windows and watch with raised eyebrows, impressed with what they see. To them, we are a rainbow, our skin color, our hair color, our clothes span across the cultures and races. To them, we are perfectly melted into blending shades of brown and white. They watch through their windows and doors, and smile to themselves about what they see through their barriers.
They don’t hear the loud rap music cascading from the boy
who sits next to me during the PSAT. They don’t taste the smoke clogging the pores of the girl across the hall. They don’t feel the beating of the basketball against the gym floor, shooting shot after shot into the net after the rest of the team has already left. They see skin, but the black girl who drinks from the water fountain outside my homeroom everyday and I could be exactly alike. We could like the same sports, listen to the same music, be the same religion. Just because our skin varies in hue doesn’t make us different from one another. The fact that she would kill for a basketball scholarship to A&M while I plan to apply to Stanford in early decision my junior year makes us different. The fact that she spends her lunch period in the gym, while I spend mine in the library makes us different. The fact that she prefers white bread while I prefer wheat bread makes us different. It is not our skin that makes us individuals. Who we like, what we listen to, our favorite TV shows, our favorite colors, our parents and our memories, that makes us different from one another. Just because she raises her hand for “african american” and I raise mine for “caucasian” when they do a racial poll doesn’t make us any more alike or any more dissimilar. It simply allows for a statistic.

Through their windows and closed doors, people see skin.
They observe a sea of skin with dimension and movement, they sigh with relief at shades of brown, caramel, and white. That is not diversity. I write. Madeleine plays basketball. Marilyn spends hours on hair and makeup. Emma reads. Lauren listens to music. The boy that sat next to me during the PSAT has three brothers and one sister. The girl at the water fountain during homeroom can’t sing to save her life. The hispanic boys who sit at the table behind us at lunch would talk about football until their lips fell off, and the pretty asian girl who is an office aid third period wants to be an architect when she grows up. That is diversity.

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