Finding out what creates the groups of American High and what sets them apart from each other
Fourth period – the class in which most students eagerly await the sound of the bell signaling the start of lunch. As soon as the sound arrives, the classroom empties in an instant and students navigate the halls to meet up with their friends and get the most out of their thirty minutes of rest. All throughout the campus, students mingle in their own groups that have been formed since the first day of school and will most likely last until the last day of school.
If one happens to pause in his or her busy school day and look up, one observation will stand out regarding these self-formed groups: almost all of the members of said group share at least one common factor, whether it’s a race, a sports team, a club, or an interest in a class.
“We can relate to each other more, so that’s why we stick together,” explained Melissa Shao (11) when describing her usual lunch group. “We were raised in the same ways with the same morals and ideas. We understand each other.” When asked about what topics in particular prompted connections within groups, Janine Wang (11) said, “We can bond over Asian stereotypes and Asian problems and other things like that while talking.”
Shared experiences tend to play the major role in these situations. The more you can empathize with a group, the more compatible everyone becomes. As the saying goes, birds of a feather flock together.
“This bond kind of takes years to build up so you can’t just move to other groups,” described Wang. “It’s been a long-term thing since everyone else joined.”
Considering the presence of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January and King’s strong beliefs on preventing segregation, can these groups be considered as a form of segregation, be it racially-based or not? After all, the groups seem to be divided based on certain qualities and features that people possess. Everyone who was asked this question, however, gave a unanimous answer to the question – no.
“It’s not like we don’t allow other people of other races,” said Shriya Subramaniam (12). Social groups aren’t restricted to one group of friends of one category and, as Arman Shah (12) added, “We all have other friends, obviously, of different backgrounds. It’s just more comfortable [for us].”
Although we don’t deliberately seek to leave others out in an exclusive community, we do tend to gravitate towards those with a greater number of shared interests. Our preference for blending in, rather than sticking out, causes us to lean towards similarities and away from differences. These groups of friends at lunch have merely decided to stay with the people they get along with best. Wouldn’t you do the same?
“You can hang out with other groups. You could eat lunch with other people on some days. I just choose not to. It’s my choice,” justified Carol Zhou (11).
These separations are not established as a rule of life, unlike Martin Luther King Jr.’s time where one’s skin color determined one’s worth. People of other groups don’t perceive it as being unfair if they’re a part of one group and excluded from another. It’s more normal than not. As Shao put it simply:
“No one’s forcing us. We choose [the groups] ourselves.”
Caption: During lunch, it’s common to see the area separated into groups. A closer look shows a pattern within many of the groups: athletes with athletes, East-Asians with East-Asians, Indians with Indians, band students with band students. “I think it’s both [intentional and unintentional],” said Arman Shah (12). “We just grew up in a very diverse community.”