In your next AP biology, AP psychology, or AP language class, take a look at the student on your left and then the student on your right. Do either of these students look different from you? Most likely not. Have you ever thought about the lack of diversity in your advanced placement classes?
“I think APs and honors are less diverse because, for generations, minorities have been told they're not smart enough, they don't have the work ethic, and they're not equal to their white counterparts, and this thought process has been so deeply rooted in the minority.” Elijah Gross, a junior at East high school, expressed his experiences about being one of the only black students in his honors courses and how he strongly believes APs and Honors classes at East high school lack diversity. So why do our schools promote diversity, but when walking into specific classrooms, it's the complete opposite?
The wage gap and the justice system continuously let minorities down, and, to a certain extent, schools are still continuing the trend of minorities not experiencing what white students are given. Currently, in Thomas Anderson's advanced placement psychology class, there are 116 students taking the class, and there are only 35 students of color. Students are constantly encouraged to take rigorous courses by counselors and parents, but it seems to be only white students who see these promotions.
The “achievement gap” has separated people in jobs and schools. Minorities have been told that because of the color of their skin, they will automatically make less money and that the potential they hold is less than their white peers. Due to these stereotypes haunting generations, black students underperform because society gives them no hope for their future. If society continuously told you your culture doesn't make it as far as others in life, what would you do in school?
Not only is society bringing minorities down, causing students to underperform, but students aren’t motivated to join a class where their peers and even teachers don’t look like them. East experiences a great amount of Homophily: the tendency for humans to associate themselves with others who have similar backgrounds and views on life. It lets people feel a certain comfort in the world and who they surround themselves with. According to a transcript about Brown vs. Board of Education, it states if a student of color has one educator who shares similar characteristics by the time they end 3rd-4th grade, the likelihood of them going on to college increases by 13 percent. Because of the psychology behind the term homophily, you will create better connections with people who look like you. That being said, who would want to feel so alone in a class of 35 students, where you are one of two students who identify as a different race than white?
Tatum Blakesly said, “if I were in a white-dominating class, I would feel like I had more pressure on me. Not only would I be the only minority in the class, but I would also be in an advanced class. I would feel like I’d have to prove something.” Her friend, Camille Haynes, replied to that comment explaining the reason she is not in advanced placement classes at East is that she would never feel comfortable because no one would understand her.
So next time you are in one of your AP classes, look to the student on your left and then the student on your right. Do they look like you?