Thomas Jefferson

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Diversity Discrepancy

Posted 04/15/2021 by Sara Eyassu

TJ’s DECA officer team adorned in Western gear for the Virtual DECA Spirit Week with Sara Eyassu, Chase Bellomo, Ben Abram, Erin Pointet, Grant Vanderiet, Alice Larm, and Lauren Simasko. photo by Kate Little

Thomas Jefferson High School’s diverse demographics are not represented in club officer positions.

The array of student organizations at TJ attracted me as I shook the jitters off after my freshman year; I was ready to begin my sophomore year with a bang. I joined Black Student Alliance (BSA), DECA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), and Interact Club. As these clubs fostered community involvement, available officer positions at the end of the year called my name. I submitted my applications for DECA and Interact Club positions for my junior year, hoping to acquire some leadership experience with accompanying involvement points for prospective colleges.

There was a slight bump in the road; I immediately saw a diversity discrepancy. Now, this discrepancy was not hard to spot in Interact Club, with white peers filling the room and a representative all-white officer team, and DECA made their stance clear with one pillar Black girl. The club demographics did not reflect TJ’s entire student body, which I deem diverse, as I eyed the skin tone rainbow through the previously crowded hallways. “Make it make sense,” I thought to myself, but this did not discourage me from these positions. I was still very excited when I received acceptance confirmations for the DECA and Interact Club officer teams.

I recognize my fellow officers as intelligent individuals who I enjoy working with who also happen to all be white. Surprise, I became the new pillar Black girl, and my laptop screen displays it each time I join virtual officer meetings to an array of white people with a pop of color. I am making it seem as if the sun could not get enough of testing my melanin that it continues shining the light on me, but being the only Black person in the group does not place me in the spotlight as much as it sounds like it does. Yes, I am Black, but I am also a fellow girl on these officer teams, a student dedicated to leadership, and a driven spirit who enjoys engagement. 

This attitude helps me not to dwell on the obvious differences among these officer teams. It has allowed me to integrate humor into my experience as I am sure other Black people can attest to, extending after high school. If this diversity discrepancy is notable now, it makes me think about my future professional career as a Black girl who can be easily spotted in a sea of white people. We are getting better as a society at having the necessary implementation of progressive steps, but encouraging Black and other people of color should also be at the forefront. At the end of the day, I have earned my role as publicist for DECA and Interact Club because of who I am. I can poke all the fun I want at being the only Black person in a meeting room while carrying my head high. To my Black peers and fellow people of color, do not allow things like this to intimidate you. You are worthy, you are skilled, and people are lucky to receive the ideas you have. Diversity is a beautiful thing that I am lucky enough to have at my school, but accurately representing it is still faulty in these leadership roles, showing that it is time for change.