First Impressions and Class Attitudes
Welcome back to Status:Melanated’s blog series, "If only I had known, life would've been different". Here we explore different perspectives of former students of color in predominantly white educational communities. This blog post is by a wonderful friend of Status:Melanated, Zane Trott. He attended an Atlanta private high school where he had different experiences. He talks about the importance of a first impression and classroom attitudes, Follow his crazy world of social media in his profiles posted below. Please enjoy this post:
Pressure of First Impressions
“As a minority student there are expectations that a predominately white school has for you once you get there. They are not usually spelled out and in most cases these expectations are pushed harder on you by the teachers than the student body. In my personal experience I came in to the school knowing that I was going to play soccer. In this instance I wish I were aware of the pressure of how important sports were to my specific school. I was encouraged and for the most part, pressured in to getting into other sports such as track, football, wrestling, and basketball. Now contrary to popular belief of the school not all the black guys that went to the school were good at basketball. In that case I passed up the chance to be a part of that team. I did participate in the other sports in some variety though. Not to brag but because I was such an athlete I excelled in all the sports that I took part in. To my detriment though that labeled me as one of the athletic black guys on campus a staple that I could not escape. With this lesson I just wish I had known that a first impression would give you a label that stuck with you through the rest of your time in that environment.
In situations where you are the minority by definition you will be the odd person out at any given moment, this includes being in class. There will be times in History, English, Government, and even Religion (if your school offers it) where you will be looked at to have a certain reaction to something that has either been said or to a specific topic of study. Specifically to my circumstance there was an instance in an English class where we were reading “To Kill A Mockingbird” (a novel known to have the “n” word in it multiple times) and the teacher would read the book in class on occasion. Before we started the book my teacher pulled me to the side before class and said something to the nature of “If at any time you get uncomfortable in the class while we are reading the book feel free to step outside and take a minute or you can let me know and I will work something different so we can read the book as homework”. With this statement I was taken aback because before that moment I had not focused on being the only minority in the class. I took this situation two ways; If I chose to step outside of the class I would miss a snippet of the lesson and class discussion, something I was not willing to do. On the other hand I was not that sensitive to the derogatory word that just hearing it used in a book would set me off. So in either case, I would not be excusing myself from the class nor did I want to create extra homework. In the end I sat in the class like everyone else occasionally looking up and catching a stray “Ohh S**t” glance from other students whenever the word was uttered. Clearly, I was not the only one feeling uncomfortable, which mad me feel even more uncomfortable. The important point here is I wish I had known how serious the race issue was for everyone else.”
Zane Trott graduated Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in 2010 and went on to graduate with a Mechanical Engineering degree from Auburn University in 2016. He currently works as a Manufacturing Resource Manager at Frito Lay in the Warner Robbins metro area. You can follow him and his n-zane-ity on his social medias: