Division by Discrimination

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The other students always shunned away from her as if she had the plague whenever she walked down any one of the school’s hallways. Hushed whispers broke out behind her as she rounded the corner of corridors, and the students all stayed far away from her table, which was empty except for her and her lunch tray, during lunchtime. Every time we got to choose our partners for projects, she would always opt to do it alone, as if she knew that she was resigned to the same fate.

Having only been transferred to this new school recently, I couldn’t comprehend why the other students avoided her, as if she had the cooties or something. I had often asked myself why. Was it because of the old worn out clothes that she wore to school every day? Maybe how her skin was shades darker than any of ours?

The other students were welcoming enough to me when I first enrolled in high school – they showed me around, told me which were the best seats on the spectators stand for watching football matches, which teachers would believe you if you said your dog ate your homework, etc. However, they treated her like she was a complete alien in the short span that I had been here, even though she had been in this school for much longer than I had.

One day, I asked my tablemates why they didn’t like close contact with her. From them, I understood that they felt that they were worlds apart from her, especially with regards to her looks and her fashion sense. However, I still couldn’t see the reasoning in their perspective. It wasn’t like she had done something wrong; her only crime was being different than the rest of us, and I didn’t see anything wrong with that.

The next day, when I told my friends that I was going to sit with her instead of them for lunch, they gaped and gawked at me like I had lost my mind. “Imagine if you were in her position. It must be really lonely for her to be without any company. Besides, if you had people gossiping about you everywhere you go? Is it right to discriminate against someone so openly?” I chided them as they fell silent.

Picking up my lunch tray, I walked towards the nearby table whereby she sat. Feeling dozens of eyes on my, I drew the chair next to hers and said, “Hi, may I sit here…”

Germaine Lee (4T)

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