Students self-segregate by race in the cafeteria
This excerpt demonstrates that problems like de facto segregation can infiltrate even schools like West Charlotte, which has a reputation for successful desegregation. Black, who sits on a committee that is trying to address self-segregation, does not seem to think the problem carries specific racial meaning: he believes people just gravitate toward the familiar.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Jeff Black, March 29, 1999. Interview K-0276. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Full Text of the Excerpt
PG: People talk a lot about West Charlotte and its diversity. It seems like that’s a real significant part of it. Also, of course here in Charlotte, West Charlotte is known for its diversity primarily regarding racial integration. Is that something that is meaningful to you here at West Charlotte?
JB: It definitely is right now with my position in student council. We have little committees that we have divided up into. I’m head of the race relations committee. Right now we’re working on a project to end de facto segregation in the cafeteria, primarily, because no matter how well we get along in the classroom and in the hallways at lunch time it still seems like everyone sits by their specific race. You have exceptions to it, but when you look that’s still primarily what you see. So we’re trying to organize a day now where everyone just tries to reach out and sit out with somebody they normally wouldn’t, or sit with somebody of a different race, just somebody that they wouldn’t normally sit with so that they can meet different people.
PG: Why do you think that happens? Why do you think that shook out that way in the cafeteria?
JB: I think it’s just people are more comfortable with things that are similar. Even if they have the same people in their classroom, they just haven’t taken the time out to venture out during lunch or during free time or hang out on the weekends or things like that. I think it’s gotten so it’s isolated in the classroom instead of everywhere else.
PG: So in the classroom, in general, people mix pretty well?
JB: Yes, I think so.