About two weeks ago, January 17th, was Martin Luther King Jr Day in America, a holiday I have never celebrated before. In Australia racism hasn't been much of an issue compared to the United States. To me, just the fact someone would actually consider making blacks take back-door exits and sit on different seats on buses is just crazy- African Americans are still Americans and are still humans for that fact and should be given some basic rights. My host mom even said that when she was a little girl growing up in the 60's in California, black people had to use different toilets and were sent to the back of the bus. My US history teacher showed the class a short cartoon clip on what would have happened if Martin Luther King didn't actually die but instead went into a coma and awoke thirty years later. In the clip Dr King wasn't too impressed with present day society as they hadn't progressed the way he had hoped. My teacher, Mr Valencia was discussing with us how segregation still exists today as my school, Santa Maria High School has approxiamately 80-90% Hispanic students whilst the nearby highschool, Righetti has the complete opposite with approxiamately 80-90% Caucasian students. For me coming to America I did have quite a few expectations of what my life, home and school would be like, even though my exchange company, EF reminded us several times to assume nothing. So walking into a school where you see only about one or two white teenagers at a time(if not less!), is a little different. My first day at the school was almost like stepping foot into another country(ie. Mexico) as everyone looks and dresses differently and many of them speak Spanish too. Righetti High School was actually the closer high school to my house here and originally I was going to be attending there but it turned out that they were too full. But if I had just gone there I don't think I would have had the cultural experience I'm having at SMHS.
I have also heard that an exchange student who went to Righetti said some of the kids there weren't very nice yet at SMHS I haven't heard one rude comment even though I walked solo past many big mobs of guys who you'd speed past if you were in the streets at night. However in my suburb of Orcutt(just outside the Santa Maria town centre and closest to Righetti) I had a young white male honk his horn at me as I was on my way up to the shops. I actually had one of the mexican guys from SMHS drop me home one day to Orcutt and he was surprised I lived there and still went to SMHS as he exclaimed "This is like whiter-than-white town!". It's kinda sad how people don't mix as a Hispanic girl in my history class said to me that she lives near Orcutt(AKA Whiter-Than-White Town) and she said that she just doesn't talk to her neighbours. I think it's really good that they have exchange programs like EF to help share cultures and show what different people around the world have to offer. We need to embrace our differences!