So for the past couple weeks I’ve done a couple interviews and continued on my readings.
The first interview I had was with a leader of the Hispanic/Latino affinity group. The first thing I asked her about was what kinds of prejudice she feels at DA and what kinds of prejudice are discussed in her affinity group. She said that the most prejudice she sees at DA regarding the Hispanic/Latino community are different jokes being made, which I feel is definitely a common trend between the different affinity groups I’ve spoken with. One thing that she noted about her affinity group in particular is how during their meetings, they prefer to talk about the things that bring them together such as holidays, food, family connections, and the like. She said that most people in her affinity group prefer talking about those sorts of things than the different types of prejudice and social biases they experience at DA and in life outside DA, which I thought was kind of cool. Another thing she told me was that her affinity group is definitely stigmatized and many people do not wish to come to meetings or join it at all. I then asked her why she thought this was, as this was something that had come up a lot between the different affinity groups that I talked to. She then said that she feels like a lot of people in high school think that it’s not cool to care about anything and a lot of students buy into this idea. This really struck me as this concept of not caring was something that I talked to with Mrs. Frasher a few weeks earlier and was something that some of the other affinity group leaders stated. Lastly, we talked about assemblies and raising awareness to diversity and inclusion. She said that she thinks that assemblies are a great way to raise awareness about important matters such as diversity, inclusion, prejudice, etc because if you don’t talk about these issues, they don’t get any better. All in all, I had a really great conversation with her and I think I can use a lot of what she said to help me create my survey.
Next, I had my interview with Mr. Wilson. The first thing I asked him about was how DA has changed since he started working here in 2002. He said that it used to be a lot less diverse, especially regarding race and socioeconomic class. He also said that at that time the most common complaint about diversity was that people at DA wanted more diversity, but now that we are more diverse, he gets more complaints wondering about when diversity efforts will be ended. So then I asked him what he thought about that question and what his end “goal” for diversity really was. He told me that his goal is to match the composition of Durham and the greater Triangle. Mr. US and Mrs. Cleaver had said something like that when I interviewed them, so that was kind of cool that they all had that same goal. We then talked about politics at DA and how when he first started working here, people were able to talk about politics and politicians without hurting others’ feelings. But in 2008 with the election of Obama he thought that all changed. Politics became a lot more personal and all-encompassing, which is something that creates that political tension a lot of us feel at DA. I said this last week, but I know politics is something I want to focus on in my survey, so I really appreciated how he was willing to talk about it. Something else that came up with him as well as with most of the other teachers that interviewed was how the faculty diversity does not match that of the students, and Mr. Wilson said that that was something DA is definitely working on. We also talked about what his experience growing up in Durham was like and how Durham has changed. He told me that when he was younger, Durham was pretty much made up solely black and white people. So when he went to public school, that was all the experience he had. However, when he went to Science and Math, he met a Jewish person for the first time and had roommates with different backgrounds who had lived different places and experienced different things. He and I both saw how different this is from Durham now and the DA experience. Now, Durham is far from binary; there are so many people from so many different backgrounds. The same is kind of true of DA in that now, as opposed to when Mr. Wilson started working here, there are many different types of people who come from different backgrounds. That’s not to say that there isn’t more work to be done in that regard, but only to reflect on the work we’ve done so far at DA. We ended talking about assemblies and students’ responses to them. Recently, many students have felt that in our assemblies we are focusing too much on diversity and inclusion and only looking at things from a liberal point of view. But Mr. Wilson noted that that’s true, the past couple months the bulk of our assemblies have been on those sorts of topics. However, if you look at the year as a whole, the assemblies that we have represent the interests of the total student population. Overall, I had a really informative conversation with him and I am so thankful he made the time to meet with me.
Here’s my plan for the next couple of weeks:
- meet with Mrs. Moylan (the original one) about what DA was like when she sent her kids here
- after meeting with Mrs. Moylan, meet with other historic DA families to see what their experiences were like
- research and create my surveys to send out to DA alumni and current student
Thanks for reading!