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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Diverse campus, segregated hallways

SE+students+often+segregate+themselves+along+ethnicity.%0APhoto+by+Linah+Mohammad%2FThe+Collegian
SE students often segregate themselves along ethnicity. Photo by Linah Mohammad/The Collegian

By Linah Mohammad/se news editor

SE students divide themselves by race or ethnicity, congregate into separate groups

Stepping inside one of TCC’s most diverse campuses, it’s easy to notice the divisions separating the subgroups that make the campus so diverse.

SE students often segregate themselves along ethnicity. Photo by Linah Mohammad/The Collegian
SE students often segregate themselves along ethnicity.
Photo by Linah Mohammad/The Collegian

In SE Campus’ hallways, Asians congregate exclusively with Asians, Arabs with Arabs, blacks with blacks and so forth.

Moving deeper into SE, specifically by the cafeteria, next to the Roberson Theatre, a distinct group of black students gathers almost every day.

Michael Northcutt, a SE pre-law major, belongs to this group. He said this group motivates each other to strive to do their best.

“We have the same interests and aspect on life, we have the same goals, and we are still trying to reach the same points as a people,” he said. “When we see everybody else segregate themselves, we feel like if we segregate ourselves, we can be stronger, deal with life better and reach the goals we are trying to get to.”

Andy Jemison, one of Northcutt’s friends and a SE nursing student, said he still feels judged by others.

“People do judge us. They judge us on our skin, they judge us on what we wear, they judge us on our tattoos, looks and shoes — the whole outward appearance,” he said.

Northcutt agreed, saying people often meet him holding preconceived notions of who he is.

“When you judge a book by its cover, you usually get the book wrong, and it’s not worth reading,” he said. “When people see us, we chill over here. They think, ‘Oh, they ain’t going to do nothing. They got nothing. They are going to be in jail. The girls are going to be strippers.’ They just look at us different, like we’re not a good race of people. That’s why we self-segregate.”

Moving closer to the registrar’s office on campus to what has become known as the Arab hallway, the Arabic chatter gets louder, particularly during passing periods.

Noor Qaddura, an undeclared student, said most of the Arabs on SE are related to her, so they all know each other. Therefore, when they’re on campus, they often gather in the hallway.

Molouk Yaseen, a SE chemistry student, said most of her friends are Arab like she is.

“It is much easier to be friends with an Arab,” she said.

Her friend, Yasmine Qader, said that because Arab women stand out, they like to surround themselves with people similar to them.

“We have a different culture from the others, a whole different mentality,” she said. “Others don’t understand us.”

This situation isn’t different for the Asian student body on campus, which is divided into subgroups, depending on their native country.

Danny Nguyen, a Vietnamese SE mechanical engineering student, admitted that although he doesn’t exclusively hang out with other Vietnamese students, he prefers to.

“It’s easier to hang out with people like you rather than having to explain your culture to somebody new,” he said.

Van Ta, a fellow Vietnamese student, said self-segregating is a good way to avoid cultural conflicts.

“It is much easier to get along with people from the same background,” he said. “Our culture is the same, and we eat the same food, which others may not be open to trying.”

Millennials commonly say they do not see color as an issue. However, a recent study by MTV has shown that “Millennials feel that ‘colorblindness’ is something to strive for yet also believe in ‘celebrating diversity.’”

Garrison Henderson, a SE sociology associate professor, suggests the society is far from being colorblind.

“As far as a colorblind or a color-neutral society goes? No,” he said. “No, that doesn’t exist. The first thing that we see is the person’s physical features whether we admit it or not. It is kind of foolish to suggest that you can’t see a person.”

Henderson said the long-celebrated idea of the melting pot doesn’t work.

“The melting pot, as far as the idea that everybody blends down to just one-base culture, is a bit unreasonable,” he said, “because what you are suggesting is that everybody is going to discard their own individual cultures and adopt mainstream values.”

Adopting the dominant culture is, in essence, assimilation. Acculturation is different. It occurs when several cultures interact.

“Acculturation’s metaphor is a tossed salad,” Henderson said. “With a tossed salad, you have your lettuce, your tomatoes, your onions and your cucumbers. The way that acculturation works is we all are together, but you can still look in the tossed salad and still see the distinct differences and diversity even though we are connected still.”

Henderson has observed a mixture of both assimilation and acculturation on SE.

“I see a combination of both,” he said. “There is a level of people who don’t interact with anybody that’s different from them, and what it’s all based on, I would conclude, is the ideology of the person.”

As a sociologist, Henderson concluded that ideologies and notions that people possess stem from their life experiences and socializations, meaning the way they’re raised and their core beliefs.

Other times, he added, these notions are derived from past experiences, positive and negative.

“If I had negative experiences with a person, I’m going to do one of two things,” he said. “I’m going to dismiss, perhaps, that person, or I’m going to dismiss the whole group that the person represents. I wouldn’t advise that, but it’s typically what we see happen.”

Shani Moore, TCC’s chief diversity officer, has said self-segregation is natural and doesn’t mean that the educational institution is at fault.

She added that self-segregation has personally helped her during her college years.

“I joined several black student movements,” she said. “If I didn’t, I would’ve gotten lost in the shuffle.”

Moore stressed the importance of talking about race although most people aren’t comfortable approaching it.

“Talking about it builds understanding,” she said. “Talking about it builds this notion of cultural humility.”

Henderson agreed.

“We need a wholesome, healthy, educational and informative discussion about race,” he said. “It’s like an elephant in the middle of the room.”

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