Standing in Line With The Correct

“I am fearful to create a more inclusive classroom with a diversity of viewpoints… that people will accuse me of being racist, sexist, or classist,” Daniel Glossenger, a social studies teacher at CHS, said. “Though it is not to exclude that the students are correct about the topic. It’s possible that [the teachers] are [racists, sexist, and etc.] but I would be surprised if all of the sudden there is a wave of racists and sexists among our teaching staff that were not present 10 years ago… something has changed here.”

Over the last decades, movements like Black Lives Matter sought to unveil the systemic racism in America; successful on various levels, these efforts and initiatives promote civil liberty, raising public awareness about racial inequality and discrimination. “I feel like our society and our schools have reared a generation that is very aware of social justice issues… but I wonder if some in this generation couch their values and beliefs about race almost akin to a religion, where there are absolute rights and wrongs… good and evil… black and white,” Josh Meyers, social studies teacher at CHS, said. 

While people are more open to talk about the presence of inequalities and xenophobias in society, social costs – like being labeled as racist or being alienated from a group – are often associated with the discussion and disagreements over the grey areas in race: one could be called racists for the times when their language or actions could be interpreted and categorized as such, even though they are not prejudiced against others of a different race. Many seek to align themselves with the radical side that seems the least likely to be accused of such labels out of a desire to be virtuous and a fear of being judged or misjudged.

“Another reason that I think people would use these labels is that the current climate, especially for young people, assigns social status to those who are able to call out those who have transgressed and very little social status for those who call in and try to make the real changes happen,” Glossenger said. 

This division and polarization are heightened to another level in the echo chamber the Internet creates, where people are continually exposed to similar ideas and few who would challenge their way of thinking. “There is a saying that you should always start the conversation with the weather, something that is not that controversial… And now, it is a joke that with climate change, you are not supposed to talk about it [the weather] either.” Zach Wang, a CHS senior, said. Impairing one’s ability to consider the different perspectives, the world of social media makes it far easier to ostracise individuals or groups of people, focusing on who is wrong or who is stupid from their perspectives. 

Many seek to align themselves with the radical side that seems the least likely to be accused of such labels out of a desire to be virtuous and a fear of being judged or misjudged.

“It feels like it’s easier online… people seem to feel like they can do that with impunity, where it might be much harder to look at your neighbor with personal relationships.” Amy Ravin, CHS parent, said. 

Social media undeniably creates a type of anonymous place where everyone is disguised and camouflaged in the mass of information and algorithms. Nevertheless, with few clicks, people are able to trace almost all the information about a person: posts, videos, or comments made by or about them ages ago. “In my history class, the other day, there was a whole moment where the sub and the kids were yelling back [at each other]. It was kind of unnecessary… But one of the kids in my class was videotaping it on Snapchat. And that’s pretty significant because once it’s on video, once it’s online, it’s there forever… And sometimes it could cost people their careers,” JiaLi Deck, a sophomore at CHS, said. “I think that the opportunities to make mistakes are lost with the internet, because people… and social expectations change overtime… When everything on the Internet feels like it is happening now, there is no vintage effect to it.”

Since 1953, Harvard Sociology Professor Samuel Stouffer surveyed a sample of Americans, asking “Do you feel free to voice your thoughts as you used to?” In 1953, 13 percent responded that they did not. In 2015, This proportion climbed to 48 percent and 40 percent in 2019. 

“There are many among the teaching staff at this school, who are deeply afraid of transgressing. And that to me, is a major detriment to our students… I think that systemically our school district has done many things to worsen this problem and few things to ameliorate,” Glossenger said, “I declined to answer with any greater specificity out of the exact fear that people are talking about. I am fearful of advocating changes to this.” 


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