The Lack of Diversity in Tahoma High School

Vector illustration of a crowd od hands reaching upwards.

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Vector illustration of a crowd od hands reaching upwards.

Keimani Leonard, Writer

Students of color in mostly white populated schools are affected when there is barely any staff of the same race. Some students try to take steps in the right direction such as learning about our culture and standing for the black lives matter movement, but most are small and affect only a small number of students.

Much remains to be done.

In a world that is becoming more and more multiracial and multicultural, we all benefit from an education system that does not enforce an unjust pact between good education and ethics.

In fact, diversity in education has been shown to promote tolerance. For example, a recent study by Drexel University found that college students in different settings were less likely to have racial and ethnic bias than students who mainly interacted with people of similar backgrounds.

My friends and I, as African Americans, have noticed that because of the lack of diversity at Tahoma white students think that they can like call African Americans the N-word or make racist jokes. Also, I believe if what we have and are currently still going through such as police brutality, or in my experience being followed around a store just because of your skin should be known by people who are not of color. They should be informed of these types of situations. Additionally, the culture of African Americans and other races should be discussed more; and if there were more people of color in Maple valley and in Tahoma, this situation could improve and they might understand why that’s not okay.

Most African Americans in this school I have talked to have said how they feel like they can’t be themselves with the pressure of fitting in and not acting quote on quote “too black”. Mr. Davis, a black sports administrator at Tahoma said that he makes it a priority to introduce himself and talk to other black students because he feels that he can connect with them because of their shared experiences. Davis believes it’s important to have a good role model for African American students to go to when they need help. He also commented that teachers who are white should try to understand why some learning experiences might be different for students of color depending on the topic. 

Mr. Davis and I talked about how people have different perceptions of our school depending on the color of the student’s skin tone.  If a black student says, “Oh, I go to Tahoma” it’s likely that someone will say “Oh, you go to that school with all the white kids?” This can make black students feel singled out. 

But even though African American struggles are real and should be acknowledged we are not the only ones who may be struggling. There are other races in this school that should be acknowledged as well and people should be aware of the lack of representation in our school.