Spotlight on South: Marianela Luna-Torrado

Marianela Luna-Torrado, guest columnist

Over the past four years, I have lived in two different states: Arizona and Illinois. I grew up in Glenview, but I lived in Arizona for two-and-a- half-years before moving back home. Arizona was a surprising state to begin high school in. I was nervous, as I think everyone would be when they have to adjust to a new environment. What would my classmates be like? Could I make friends easily? Would I find my place?

It turns out I had very little to worry about. The students I met were open, interesting, and diverse. Everyone had a different life story that they weren’t afraid to share, and their honesty helped in forming deeper friendships. I had friends of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds. The diversity in Arizona was a refreshing change from the environment I had here. I’m well aware Glenview is a great place to live, though this suburb is so dominated by white, wealthy and upper-middle class people that it can feel isolating when you are neither of the three.

As a lower-income Hispanic student, I know all too well where I should rank in Glenbrook South’s student body. It is an uncommon sight to see students like me taking honors and AP courses. Most of my classmates are white, and I find myself unable to relate to their experiences. For example, a lot of girls think it’s necessary to get a spray tan before homecoming. It’s ironic that they wish to have darker skin like mine, but don’t want to experience discrimination like I do.

However, I acknowledge that our school community is trying to embrace its limited diversity. Walk into the student services wing and you will be greeted by posters that declare “Dreamers Welcome” in reference to  immigrants who came to the United States as children, “LGBTQ+ Safe Space,” and the like. I only wish this attitude was widespread throughout our school. It sadly seems that if you’re white, your privilege outweighs your character. For example, most of my fellow seniors are encouraged to apply to elite colleges, while I receive emails plainly implying that Hispanic students should consider Oakton. I find this comical as I’ve been taking honors and AP classes since my freshman year.

Something must change. We can start by acknowledging the white privilege that exists in our school and checking our assumptions of students of color. Call out whatever instances of racism you see, no matter how minor they seem. And at the very least, treat every person you meet with respect, and realize that their lives may be drastically different from yours. Remember that diversity does not equal inclusivity. What will it take for students to not be treated by the color of our skin, but by who they are?