By Amber Brenner –
We all hold prejudices, whether we know it or not. We judge a person based on how we see them at a glance in the halls. And yes, that is holding prejudices.
“He is wearing cowboy boots, so he must be a redneck. And we all know that every redneck is a racist. Therefore, because he is wearing cowboy boots, he must be a racist.”
This probably seems made-up. If you don’t believe that it’s true or don’t think it happens often, maybe you should try it. Wear cowboy boots and flannel, perhaps, because, of course, all rednecks love flannel. See what reactions you get.
I was raised on the same farm that I was born on and I don’t plan on ever leaving the rural countryside. Basically, I’m your typical, home-grown, country girl. I love my cowgirl boots and my plaid and flannel shirts. I would love to wear them more than I do, but sadly, I don’t wear them more than once every two or three weeks. When I do wear my boots, people make more eye contact with my feet than they make with my eyes. People will even go as far as making comments about my personality, again, based only on the way I am dressed. I often hear comments like, “You’re looking awfully racist today.”
I find myself making a calendar of what I wear when, just to avoid “looking racist” too often.
Everyone claims that we have too many “rednecks” in our school and they cause too many racial problems, but the fact is there are probably just as many people who hold prejudices against these rednecks as there are racists.
Everyone needs to realize that not every rednecks/hick is a racist.
Quay Hanna, a reformed racist and mediator here at Penn Manor, has had a table on the side of the cafeteria for years. Here sat students from his club of the past 15 years. They could talk about anything and everything. But this past semester, Hanna had the table removed from the cafeteria. There had been many incidents that originated from the table and Hanna didn’t want his name attached to what had happened.
Quay’s club was never a club for those “racist rednecks” to go be racist. It was started in 1997 after racial tensions broke out at Penn Manor and turned into what is referred to as “the whiteout.” This was after a white student stabbed a black student with a pencil and upon his return from suspension, his fellow “racists” all wore white tees to support his actions. Hanna held an assembly about the whiteout and met with the involved students during club period. These students asked him to come back and talk with them every week. The club morphed into a place where students meet weekly and discuss issues of race and other topics. They can speak freelyand all races can have their eyes opened by this club.
We have weeks taken from our schedules for PSSA testing and other things that the school needs us to do. Well, the school needs to be accepting and understanding of each other. There needs to be days set aside where everyone participates in these activities and discussions. Even the PSSA testing times could be used for the three grades not taking the PSSAs.
We all need to open our eyes a little. We are so fixed on what stereotypes and prejudices that we think we know, that we lose sight of what is truly real. After all, the rednecks aren’t the only ones with a problem. Neither are the racists.
But hey, what do I know?
I’m just a girl who suffers at the hands of prejudices in our school every day.