What year is it now? 1960? Well, it sure seems that way. I am not claiming that society has not progressed in the last 40 years, but for the first time in my life I realize how far we still have to go. We still notice race, and we still segregate. The only difference now is that it goes both ways.
Last semester while getting food with a friend on the main quad on West Campus, I walked over to a set of benches with a few open seats and sat down. No big deal, right? After sitting on the bench for a few minutes, my friend turned to me and told me that to the undergraduates, this bench was traditionally reserved for the black students, and then pointed to other benches that were the white benches.
While neither my friend nor I felt any need to move from the bench, nor felt any pressure from anyone else, I have since noticed that my friend was right. Returning to the quad several times, I have noticed that only black students sat on the bench I had used, and only white students sat on the other benches. On occasion, someone breaks this pattern and sits in the wrong place, but those who did were mostly visitors, not Duke students.
I have never witnessed such blatant segregation before, and quite honestly it disgusts me. We live in the 21st century. There is no difference between the races. We are all people with feelings, morals, values and intelligence. So why do we continually choose to segregate?
My initial response to my disgust was to encourage people to associate with members of all different races, but I feel that by doing that I may be promoting exactly what I disgust. Don't approach someone because they are of a different race; approach someone because you may really get along with them, regardless of race. Choose with whom you interact based on who they are, not what they look like. Looks can often be deceiving. How many times have you met a person that you view as attractive, based solely on societal constructions of beauty, and they turn out not to be compatible with you based on their personality? Learn a lesson from this. Society has made many of us notice differences in one's skin color. The question of who is a great person is reliant on that individual, not his race.
Get up off the bench you are supposed to be sitting on and stop judging books by their covers. The cover does not adequately represent what is inside.