North Isn’t Ghetto, You’re Just Racist

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North Isn’t Ghetto, You’re Just Racist

Ashley Honey, Editor-in-Chief

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A few weeks ago, I started working in retail. One of my coworkers introduced himself and asked me what school I go to.

“Olathe North,” I said.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” he replied with a laugh.

I’m not gonna lie, his comment stung quite a bit, and it has stayed with me over the past few weeks.

Olathe North has gained a unique reputation in the Olathe School District, and I don’t know if it is deserved.

You only have to spend a few minutes in our halls to notice how North differs from other high schools. During the 2016-2017 school district, the Public School review reports that 53% of the student body at Olathe North identified as white. For comparison, the Public School Review states that 75% of students at Olathe East, 79% of students at Olathe Northwest, and 76% of students at Olathe South identified as white in the 2016-2017 school year. Olathe West does not currently have a profile on Public School Review, so data pertaining their demographics was unavailable.

It’s possible that the statistics displayed in the calculations conducted by the Public School Review are inaccurate, but you don’t need to see statistics to notice that many students at North are minorities, specifically Hispanic. We’ve all heard the stereotypes surrounding Hispanics, many of them even spread by our current president.

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people,” President Donald Trump proclaimed during a speech in June 2015.

People love to talk down on North simply because it’s “the ghetto school”, and we’ve all heard the comments and remarks made by students from other high schools that have a negative perception of us. By calling Olathe North “ghetto,” people are showing signs of ingrained racism by insinuating that we are an inferior school due to our large population of Hispanics. This has got to stop.

Additionally, Olathe North is known as the poorest high school in the Olathe district. The Public School Review states that 31% of the students at North qualify for free lunch. It also states that 10% of the students qualify for free lunch. North is located in an older, poorer part of the city, which means many North students suffer from poverty.

The claims suggesting Olathe North is inferior to other Olathe Schools because we are “ghetto” or “trashy” or “poor” or “full of druggies” are incredibly offensive. When people call North “the ghetto school”, it reeks of ignorance and deeply rooted racism that has only been worsened by President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. What it comes down to is this: Olathe North isn’t ghetto, but the people who call it ghetto are racist and classist.

Yes, our building is old. Yes, the water drips from the ceiling when it rains. But Olathe North is an incredible high school with intelligent individuals and a diverse student body. We had the most 2019 National Merit Semifinalists (8!) in the entire Olathe district. We are home to the most competitive 21st Century Academy, Distinguished Scholars. And people just want to dismiss that and say we’re inferior because we’re “ghetto”?

Diversity should be seen as something that strengthens our school, not a reason for us to be looked down upon. Being surrounded by people who are different than you makes people more compassionate, understanding, and accepting of others. 

If you’re going to criticize Olathe North, make sure it’s for an actual valid reason. If your main problem is that North is “the ghetto school” and that’s why you don’t like it, it just makes you sound racist and ignorant.