It is difficult for me to think about race throughout my educational experiences because I don’t even remember there being a variety to think about. From Kindergarten until third grade I went to a private Catholic school. I can remember perfectly how every single one of my classmates were white. I recently found one of my old class pictures, and sure enough, 25 little Caucasian faces smiled back at me. Obviously this was something that I did not notice at the time. I always assumed that was the norm. Even the faculty and the staff lacked diversity. The principal, the teachers, the office staff; all white.
In fourth grade I transitioned to a public elementary school. Right away I noticed there to be a littlemore racial variety within my classmates, although it was still minimal at best. The faculty remained all white as well. I didn’t start seeing more diversity until middle school. I saw the biggest an increase with Hispanic students, but from what I recall there were maybe three African American students total. If I had to guess I would say my middle school was 90-95% white students.
With every educational transition I made, there seemed to be more diversity among students. In high school there started to be a more even mix of white and Hispanic students. There were a few more black students, but looking back I do not remember there being very many Asian/Pacific Islander students. After reviewing my senior class yearbook I would break the students down into 85% White, 8% Hispanic, 5% Black or African American, 1% Asian, 1% other/unknown. I then directed my attention to the faculty section of my yearbook, and yet again 100% were white. Even all of the foreign language teachers were white which I thought was a little interesting.
College was where everything changed for me. I saw a drastic increase in racial diversity. I am happy to say that I saw this switch in not only the students, but in the faculty as well. Going to Oregon State University, I had my first experiences with non-white educators, and that was quite refreshing. I looked at OSU’s faculty ethnic diversity breakdown and I saw that it is “on par with the national average” (“Faculty Ethnic Diversity at OSU”, 2018). I have included an image of the breakdown below.
When I was younger, I did not learn much of anything about race, other than that there was no variation of it in my schools. With every year, I did see an increase in racial diversity and I think that has a lot to do with the size of my school was growing, and with more students you are bound to see more diversity. I was surprised to see that this didn’t much affect faculty. I now know that Oregon and the area I grew up in, Albany, are not very diverse places. I looked up the demographics for my hometown and the population is 89.29% White compared to the national average of 73.35% (“Albany, OR Demographics”, 2016).
This is pretty significant to me, but this is something I can even notice on my own. When I have traveled to other states, sometimes I am blown away by the racial diversity. That is why I love travelling and I want to do it more! Sometimes I feel like I’m trapped in a little “white bubble” here in Albany… for lack of better words. I can only hope that I do get out and see more of the world and I remain hopeful that Oregon will grow to be a more racially diverse state that will have a wide range of pre-college faculty racial diversity.
This first piece of art is supposed to represent how over time and throughout my education experiences I saw more racial diversity. You can see as time goes on the tree grows new colorful branches and grows more life. This is my interpretation of what my education experience were like. With every increasing year I saw more life and color.
This second piece of art shows my gradual understanding that no matter what race we are; we are all human. If you peel away the layers of skin, you cannot see a difference between all of us. This picture is showing people of different races standing behind an x-ray machine. We can see that they are all the same. If I took away their racial labels and asked someone to identify which race each one was, they would not be able to do so.