Story by Hailey Paulson
One percent Hawaiian, seven percent Irish, twenty-one percent German, two percent Australian, and forty-four percent African. The common heritage of an “American” kid is full of ancestries pointing all over the globe.
The United States is known as a melting pot for every culture, and the common white appearance is starting to darken in skin tones as new appearances are added to the heritage of many students. Junior Sammie Fulson is made of a mix full of three different cultures.
“My dad is mixed, he is African-American and he is white, and my mom is Mexican…It’s just cool growing up with diversity all around me because my family if you look at portraits we are all over the map, the darkest of dark to the lightest of light, it’s neat to have that around you,” said Fulson.
Fulson has grown up with these different cultures colliding all around her. “I think it’s great. I like diversity and I’ve grown up with diversity. To me it’s not anything new. It’s not new to me I am used to people mixing and being all together. I think it’s great, I like it,” said Fulson.
With all of the positive outcomes of the mixed cultures which were fused through Fulson and her siblings, she finds interracial relationships to be a positive. “I know some people don’t agree with it completely but I do obviously,” said Fulson.
The combination of different cultures provide for a mutual understanding of each culture to an extent. Fulson sees these relationships to provide for more tolerance among different cultures. “Right now there is a lot of racial issues and tension, but I think as people come together like that you won’t see as much of that. I think that people will see things beside or things past skin and past what you are used to,” said Fulson.
While Fulson has found these relationships to be very beneficial for her and her family, senior Julianne Thomas has found different results. Thomas is a mix of African-American and white.
When Thomas reflects on the idea of her mixed heritage she comes to the point of “how separated we are. My black side of my family and my white side of my family are not connected,” said Thomas.
Though Thomas and her family haven’t found as much success to be intermixed, she still supports the idea of cultures intermingling. “I am all supportive of interracial relationships but I feel like they are more understanding of each other when it’s two minorities together,” said Thomas.
Thomas hopes that the mix of cultures can start to work through the issues of tolerance and tension between races and cultures. “I’m hoping it can keep everyone more grounded because right now we are so segregated right now. Especially what is going on politics wise. I feel like in the years to come if more people are of more than one race I’m hoping it will be more connected and be more together because we are so separated based on race.”
The concept of interracial dating between high schoolers is not something that Thomas is as fond of due to the lack of understanding of the weight of the situation. “In a way I am supportive of interracial dating but at this age people take advantage of it and it kind of aggravates me that people aren’t more understanding of it and different races being together,” said Thomas
The reason behind Thomas’ dislike of interracial dating in high school stems from the lack of realization that two different cultures are combining. “ People our age take more advantage of it rather than fully understanding it and fully understanding the capacity it has and how it can affect a person. Whereas the older we get the more understanding we become of it,” said Thomas.
As far as mixed children go, senior Alex Alsbury supports this idea fully because of the benefits she has reaped through her different culture backgrounds. Alsbury is half Korean and half American.
“I think it’s beneficial in a lot of ways for mixed kids who aren’t just white but if they are mixed with another race that’s completely different, you have these two completely different cultures. It kind of makes you a cultural person… It makes you a little more worldly because you know about other cultures without having to go look for it,” said Alsbury.
According to Alsbury, the mix of cultures is an important tool. “I think it’s really important for people to learn about others lifestyles because it’s really easy for people to become closed in their own bubble and lifestyle and not really know how other people live…different circumstances breed different people,” said Alsbury.
Alsbury has found that in school students with different backgrounds can add to class discussions involving unfamiliar materials. “I’ve been in history class before and my teacher will be talking about something they aren’t sure about or they will mention something about a culture and there will be kids that can add more to something about the subject,” said Alsbury.
Thomas finds that the goal of teaching about different cultures can never be accomplished successfully unless you truly understand the culture being taught.
“I think it is such a hard topic to teach in school… I don’t really think you can put a pen to a paper in a textbook about racial discrimination. I think it’s more based on opinions and experiences,” said Thomas.
“I feel like no matter how hard we try it will never be solved, especially in America. If you look around the world like world hunger, that will never be solved; world peace, you can work for it but it will never be fully solved, so I feel like it will always exist in some people. We can minimize the issue but I don’t think it will be solved because of difference of opinions and difference of lifestyles,” said Thomas.
However, Fulson thinks that minority groups starting to mingle with the American mix will help to create a level of understanding. “It creates a level of understanding throughout the cultures…You get acquainted with different people and different ways of life, little things that you are not used to,” said Fulson.
Combining two cultures makes a culture that is different and unique. “New things come about when you take different things from other cultures and mix it in with your own and make something new and beautiful. And it creates understanding as well among different people,” said Fulson.
There hasn’t been a lot of negativity shown towards Alsbury for her unique background, but she claims it is still out there. “Personally I don’t see the negative. I see a lot of the positive and people think that it’s so cool. But, if you go online you see people that receive backlash and we kind of hurt for those people,” said Alsbury.
West allows most students to have a place to fit in and to embrace the different culture they have within according to Fulson and Alsbury, however Thomas has found that outside of West there isn’t the same standards.
“It is aggravating that my black side of my family and my white side of my family don’t have a relationship with each other. I’ve always grown up in a household of being segregated between whites and blacks so it is kind of irritating to see it in our society as well,” said Thomas.
The effect of this has led Thomas to have a un-unified lifestyle. “It has caused me to live a more segregated life. Even though I am more than one race I am either one way or the other I am never both at the same time,” said Thomas.