The problem we all live with (but don’t talk about)

Kendall Polidori

The Problem We All Live With (But Don’t Talk About)

Kendall Polidori

I recently listened to a podcast for one of my classes entitled, “The Problem We All Live With.” Nikole Hannah-Jones, an investigative journalist and writer for The New York Times, spoke about the desegregation act in Missouri school systems. She spoke to different people about their experience with this accidental desegregation of schools in 2014.

Now, I won’t go into great detail about everything that happened, but my main takeaway from this story was that it all happened in 2014. Coming from a pretty diverse community in the suburbs of Chicago, I was honestly ignorant to the fact that this was still a major problem in some states. Of course in my general education we touched on the history of segregation briefly, but once we learned the basic information it was never discussed again. 

From my own experience, it was talked about as though it was strictly in the past and we as American citizens have moved on. But after listening to this podcast and doing further research, that is completely false and I have to admit, it made me really nervous that I did not know this information previously. 

I’ve realized after looking into it that it has been all around me my whole life but went unnoticed or ignored. Let’s take Grand Valley State University for example, which consists of 80 percent white students. I came to Grand Valley from a school that is only 23.8 percent white which is a huge difference. It was shocking for me to come to school here and just be part of a community and atmosphere that was nothing like my past one. I’m not saying this is a bad thing or good thing, it’s just interesting how extremely different two places can be while both are in the United States, let alone the Midwest. 

Now this brought up many questions for me: why are some schools in the United States still segregated? If we know the problem, why is it continuously happening? How do we end this system of segregation? The list goes on and on. There are so many unanswered questions to this one problem, yet the United States has not seen much change since the first desegregation act in 1954. It seems to be this constant cloud hanging over our heads as American citizens, but we don’t give much effort to make it go away. 

I would say the first step in making the change would be to talk about it. As someone who has been part of the American education system my whole life, I feel like I should have known more about this earlier than my sophomore year in college. Everyone has their own opinions concerning this topic, which is exactly why it should be made known and discussed thoroughly. 

Take a step back and look into this yourself. Is it what you learned back in your primary school education?