Do Students at LHS Respect Other Cultures?

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Past years at LHS have seen confederate flags fly high on the back of trucks in the parking lot. Christmas trees are decorated in the hallways in December, without a menorah or Kinara in sight. The rich cultures of Native Americans and early African Americans are taught in mere weeks, while European history gets an entire class. In light of events that take place at LHS every day, it is no wonder why it is brought into question whether or not students have trouble respecting the cultures that coexist with their own. To understand what it means to respect a culture is a slippery slope The Bell staff had trouble deciphering. Does it simply mean to be kind to those around us regardless of race or religion? Or does it mean to be open-minded to the complex thoughts, emotions, struggles and ideologies that come along with other cultures? While being kind to everyone is a starting place, the staff decided that “respect” should be regarded as basic human decency.

In a city that (in it’s last census report) is 88 percent white, the topic of culture is one that often makes LHS staff and students uncomfortable, because the open discussion of culture is not something some Liberty residents have been exposed to. When The Bell staff asked for teacher’s opinions, hesitation and awkward silences sometimes followed. This may be due to some feeling it isn’t their place to speak on whether or not students respect the people who represent less than 15 percent of the school. It could also be because it isn’t fair to negate the character of Liberty students as a whole because of a few less-than respectful people.

Some Bell staff members told stories of feeling uncomfortable growing up. There were questions about their hair, eating habits, holidays, and how they dress and speak. Some Bell staff members pointed out that being able to openly ask questions about our differences is key to combating the ignorance that often contributes to the disrespect minorities at LHS face. Finding the balance between asking questions out of genuine curiosity and interrogation can be a gray area.

While nobody wants to admit to lacking respect for a particular culture, a few are more than open about their ignorance, or their lack of knowledge on the topic. While the term ‘ignorant’ often has a bad connotation, and most likely will have somebody leaping out of their seat to defend themselves, the word only means to “not be aware.” The key difference is that ignorance lacks malicious intent. However, while disrespect is something that is typically ingrained in a person, being ignorant can easily be changed by taking it upon one’s self to become better informed and more open-minded.

For these reasons, the majority of The Bell staff came to the conclusion that LHS students do not respect other cultures. However, by exploring the cultures of others and becoming informed on their histories, struggles and customs, this ignorance can be overcome. Even something as small as attending clubs such as Diversity Council, Women’s Issues Now, Breakfast Club, or Gay Straight Alliance can help. Speaking with people from different cultures to try and understand what makes them different from yourself can also help you become more respectful and understanding. If you see someone being disrespectful to someone else’s culture, speak up or Sprigeo it. One teacher’s answer to our question sums up one of the easiest solutions to this problem: “Tolerance and respect is an area where everyone could use more education.”

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