This is an open letter from Darlinne Kambwa, a high school student
at LaFollette. It was published in the Cap Times on September 14, 2005
Darlinne Kambwa: RACIAL DIVIDE IN HIGH SCHOOLS MUST BE
BRIDGED BY GROUP EFFORT
By Darlinne Kambwa
The Capital Times
September 14, 2005
Most students attend school five days a week,
approximately eight hours a day, for at least 11
years. With all of the time spent at school, it
literally becomes a second home.
Students should never feel uncomfortable, unsafe or
unwanted in our public schools. However, many do.
This fall I am a senior at La Follette High School. As
a minority student, I feel that the environment has
not been inviting to the entire student population.
Racial divisions at La Follette are a serious problem
that need to be addressed before it becomes worse.
The racial divisions make students, particularly
minority students, feel uncomfortable and unwanted.
Students at La Follette High School, just like any
other high school, tend to draw toward people they
feel comfortable around or have something in common
with. Groups are often formed based on race, age,
gender or social class.
As you walk through La Follette’s halls, the first
thing that stands out is race. The halls are crowded
with little clusters of students everywhere – but most
of these groups are full of students of the same race.
Students are often told they can always approach a
teacher or faculty member with their problems. But not
all students know a faculty member they feel
comfortable talking with. This is just one example of
how the administration and teaching staff do not
connect with the entire student body.
How teachers interact with minority students has a
large impact on how the minority student body feels in
Another striking example of how the teachers’ and
administrators’ actions at La Follette negatively
affect the minority student body is the unequal
enforcement taking place. Oftentimes African-Americans
and other minorities are stopped in the hallway for
passes or receive detention for being tardy, while
whites do not.
Teachers and administrators need to decide on one
system for enforcing the rules.
This is not to imply that students are not responsible
for their own actions, but rather that their actions
need to be fairly judged by the entire staff. Being an
African-American, I know this treatment makes students
feel unwanted and discourages success.
There is no one reason that racial division exists at
La Follette, but it is an issue that needs to be
discussed. Whatever the solution may be, it must be a
group effort. Teachers, students and administrators
need to come together to solve it.