Think Bay Area Teens Are Safe From Prejudice? Think Again

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Photo Courtesy of Senay Alkebu-lan/ Youth Radio

I attend an elite private school in Oakland. It’s like a tiny utopia, within the already liberal bubble of the Bay Area. But recently, my perception of my school community as an accepting, tolerant place, was shaken dramatically.

It started when my best friend and I got selected as advice columnists for our school newspaper. We sent out an online form to the entire campus, soliciting questions for our column. We were asking people to bare their souls, anonymously of course, revealing their innermost thoughts and feelings.

But those unspoken sentiments, well, they weren’t exactly what we expected.

“Why is your nose so big?” “When are you two getting married?” “Why are you perpetually single?”

Knowing the disparaging things that, at least on some level, my peers were thinking about me — it affected me on a daily basis. It may be naive, but before seeing those survey results, I felt protected from this kind of bullying.

I’m still mourning the sense of safety I lost, but a bigger part of me knows it couldn’t last forever. I’ll have to confront these prejudices every day anyways — might as well start training early.



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