Grosse Pointe's "What up doe dog?" problem
I go to one of the top independent schools in Michigan, University Liggett School. My school is predominantly white and is in the Detroit suburb of Grosse Pointe, which is a predominantly white town. I am black and see some things in this town, and in my school, which show that society is still dealing with racism and classism. I'm not one of those people who goes around looking for problems to complain about; but I'm not one that just sits there and ignores them, either.
I came to Liggett from Detroit schools four years ago and being the “minority” has been a new experience—and not always an easy one. For example, because I am black, it is assumed that I am on scholarship, because I guess some people think that blacks aren't able to afford a school like Liggett. I am, in fact, on scholarship; but a lot of other blacks that attend my school pay full tuition, and are not struggling to do so.
The fact that I am on scholarship does not mean I am poor, which is another thing a lot of people assume. I have enough money to get what I need and want but, no, I don't have the money to pay more than $19,000 a year for my education. Personally I don't think that being on scholarship is a bad thing at all. A lot of people are ashamed to say that they are on scholarship. Not me.
People also assume that, since I am black, it is OK to walk up and greet me with, “what up doe dog?” I know that I have never used that phrase in my life. I simply respond to those people with “hey,” because it doesn't take all of that just to say hi to me.
People say that it's just ignorance that leads people to do and say these things, but I know for a fact that half the people who make these remarks are not ignorant of what they are really doing and saying. People like to use the excuse that some people are not used to being around black people, so they don't really know how to act. Well, I grew up in the City of Detroit and attended Detroit Public Schools for 11 years, with just one white student attending my middle school. I didn't make rude and insensitive comments to that person and then excuse myself by saying I'm ignorant to white sensitivities.
In any case, the ones who really feel uncomfortable in any school are the minorities, and we can all make them feel better by not making assumptions and getting to know them as individuals.
Damiana Sorrell, a senior at University Liggett School, is part of the "TIME 11", a group of Detroit area high-school students working with Assignment Detroit.