What does it mean to be a Titan? It’s a question I have been asked a lot over the past four years, and South’s administration has been especially dialed into this identity within recent months. For the most part, our immediate responses are all similar.
South is a welcoming community. It is a second home. It is a place where everyone can find their niche. It is a family.
As a senior, I have heard these statements over and over during the past four years. And as I near graduation and reflect on my time at South, I just can’t help but wonder: is this the whole truth?
When you walk through the cafeteria, what do you see? Too often, our friend groups are decided by superficial distinctions -appearance, clothing, wealth. We flock toward who we think reflects ourselves.
That isn’t to say we aren’t welcoming, a home or a family; but rather to say there are issues that complicate the Titan identity.
Have you heard of South’s “Little Mexico?” The hallway east of the freshman cafeteria, where kids oftentimes sit to eat or just hang out, has been stereotyped as the hallway for Mexican students at South. Have you ever heard this hallway mentioned in a derogatory way? Have you ever said anything yourself?
That isn’t to say I’m innocent, either. I admit, ashamedly, that nearly all my friends are white, I’ve occasionally heard, and not confronted, racially-charged comments, and I have committed microaggressions displaying ignorance.
I have contributed to the culture that is often stratifying: for kids of different races, cultural backgrounds, financial situations, even fashion sense and hobbies.
But as the years pass, I see change. Two years ago, a girl wearing a hijab won prom queen. This year, as I walk down the hallway, what I had often heard referred to as “Little Mexico” seems to have outgrown its stereotype.
South has the power to change. We have the power to truly embody those words: welcoming, home, family. But the first step is to acknowledge the things that divide us, so we can move forward in a constructive way.
When I hear that question, What does it mean to be a Titan?, I can’t help but think of where we’ve been. The pain we have overcome together and the issues we face today. But more importantly, I feel hope for South to truly be everything we have always dreamt of being.