Breaking down stereotypes in the halls of DHS

By Ariel Tausk & Nicki Malekadeli
managing news/page one & staff writer

Most wouldn’t think there is much cultural diversity in a town of roughly 50,000 people. It seems to be a common sentiment here at DHS and in the community that Midland lacks exposure to any kind of diversity.

The truth is, for a small town, the presence of Dow brings in a bigger variety of ethnicities than many other small towns. While the idea that Midland is completely filled with white people is highly exaggerated, it’s true that the small size of Midland contributes to a fairly universal mindset in its inhabitants.

“I feel like sometimes, especially in Midland, all of the people will be quite similar in their thinking,” Senior

Daniel Tzou said. “But I don’t feel like Midland is that separate and universal.”
Minorities include any group that doesn’t make up to majority of the population. Asian, African-American, Hispanic, Middle-Eastern and Native American are some general examples. It’s true that Midland may not be an accurate model of the rest of the country in terms of the number of minorities. There are, however, excellent opportunities to grow and learn from these rare individuals.

“I think diversity gives you different points of view,” junior Ada Wong said. “If everyone’s from the same area everyone tends to think the same. In different classes you need different viewpoints.”

Generally, students who identify with any minority group feel accepted in the primarily Caucasian DHS community. Race does not appear to be an extremely divisive factor in the school. This may be due to the fact that there are relatively few minority students, so it is not much of an issue. However, many of these groups are subject to stereotypical judgments. This may be especially true as a result of living in a town where the majority of residents are Caucasian.

One ethnic group especially targeted for stereotypes at DHS are those of Asian descent. Junior Shreya
Bahadur has encountered Indian/Hindu stereotypes from her peers. The stereotypes she has encountered that are specific to her group are that all Indians are vegetarians, more intelligent than the average person, or that they are just strange.

“It doesn’t affect me, because I don’t let it affect me,” Bahadur said.

Stereotypes exist throughout the world and in every ethnic group. Stereotypes are unfair assumptions whether they are meant to be positive or negative. Although stereotypes like these are often used in fun and not meant to be hurtful, even joking can cause irreversible damage. In order to be truly open-minded, these generalizations should not be encouraged.

Many accuse Midland of being an overwhelmingly Caucasian town, despite the fact that Dow and other companies bring in residents from all over the world. But there is much to learn from the diverse groups of people that live here.

“I think diversity is important everywhere because we’re not all the same,” social studies teacher Emily Grocholski said. “It makes life more interesting to learn about different groups.”

For many students, life after high school may include living in a place other than Midland, Michigan. This means encountering different people and different ways of life in a world that’s quickly becoming more globalized.

“When kids go out into the real world, they have to have to have some kind of experience with other cultures and backgrounds, be more accepting, understand where others come from,” senior Nick Oriedo said.

It is beneficial to students’ educational experiences to have the first-hand cultural knowledge that students of different backgrounds bring. Grocholski sees the diversity of her students come into play mainly with her sociology classes, but other classes as well. For one, the IB curriculum encourages students to view things through different perspectives. She also uses the example of studying the Philippine-American War.

“You talk to somebody who has relatives that are from the Philippines,” Grocholski said. “They can give insight into how it’s impacted their families. It’s something you can’t always read in books.”

Bahadur likes to think her cultural background and knowledge of India helps her bring personal experience to the classroom.

“In history classes, they talk about India, and I can contribute to the conversation,” Bahadur said.

Cultural diversity is essential to the life of any individual, in order to gain new perspectives on life. DHS and Midland in general are fortunate to have such a diverse school culture, which allows an increased encounters with and knowledge of people of different ethnicities and backgrounds.

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