As an environmental health student at Rollins, I have read only a handful of academic articles on race, ethnicity, and mental health, so I am certainly not an expert. I do know, however, that I found myself upset at the state of the lunch room at my assigned school.
Growing up in Chicago, I quickly realized that segregation is certainly still a problem in our current world (many neighborhoods in Chicago are associated with an ethnic group, and there is not much ‘mixing’!). Segregation was the norm, but it was something I was never okay with accepting. I lived in a predominately Mexican neighborhood, was the president of “Project: Diversity” (a group at my high school promoting cultural awareness), and have always had a diverse group of friends.
A few weeks ago while observing the lunch room at my school, I was bothered when I realized that nearly all of the tables were filled with students of the same race (this school is predominately African-American, but also has a number of students from east Asian, south Asian, Middle Eastern, European, and Latino backgrounds). This brought me back to our discussion in class about the book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”, and I began to explore the benefits and disadvantages of this self-segregation.
Surprisingly, little research has been conducted on the attitudes of students toward their peers of other racial groups (Kurlaender & Yun, 2007). In fact, in my brief search, I could not find any recent articles which discussed findings I hoped to see: the vast social and educational benefits of interacting with classmates of other races and ethnicities.
RSPH, Environmental Health