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Old 10-29-2009, 06:10
splee2 splee2 is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 24
Question Why?

At my table 1, a table full of male seniors, the occupants claimed to sit together because they were long-time friends. Also, all but one of them played sports for BLS at some point during the last 6 years. They mostly had sandwiches to eat, with the ocassional pizza; and their grades ranged everywhere from As & Bs to Ds & Fs. The all 17-year olds sit together at their table in the senior section everyday. All of them are middle class economically. They were mainly Middle Eastern, White, and Black, coming from places like Lebanon, Armenia, Greece, Ethiopia, Ireland, and even Canada. These boys live everywhere, including Jamacia Plain, Roslindale, West Roxbury, South Boston, and Roxbury.
Table number two wasn't as easy to categorize. The table consisted of mostly all 9th graders, with 1 sixie: their ages ranges from14 and 15 and 12. They also claimed to sit together because they were close friends. They ate everything from Mac & Cheese, the lunch for the day, to chocolate chip cookies and popsicles. This table's grades mostly had grades of As and Bs. They sat together at their table in the middle of the cafeteria everyday. This table too all consisted of middle class students, living mostly in Dorchester, with some in Westie, Roxbury, and Mission Hill. The races of the table were very mixed, with some White, one Middle Eastern, mostly Black, and one Hispanic. They came from Trinidad, Ireland, Portugal, Bangladesh, and the Carribean.
Table three was probably the most stereotypical. It consisted of 8 Chinese girls with grades of mostly As and some Bs. They always sat there, in a cove of the middle of the cafeteria, because apparently had been long-time friends, with a lot of the same classes. They ate lunches of pizza, chicken (the lunch of the day), and a salad. They mostly aged 16-years-old, with one 17-year-old. They were all from the middle economic class, and are currently in 11th grade. A majority of them live in Brighton, with about two who live in Southie.
Cafeteria patterns seem to be the following: a table of jocks here, a table of asians there, a table of blacks in the corner, a table of whites in the middle, and, occasionally, a table that's comletely mixed. I think that most people group together mostly based on longtime friendships, as opposed to race of economic class. Rarely do people sit together because of grades, though most times people feel most comfortable sitting with other of the same "intelligence level". I would say that classes have the most to do with why people sit together, as well as class at BLS. Race usually is a commonality among occupants of the same table, but i really don't think that race is considered with who you sit with intentionally.
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Old 10-29-2009, 06:12
surfbud surfbud is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 29
table 1. The first table I surveyed was completely Asian, and split evenly between males and females. And yes, I got the “we sit together because we’re Asian!” response to my question. They were seniors too….Ethnicity aside, about half had come in as bsies and had had a lot of the same classes and participated in the same extracurricular activities. They said they sit in the same place every day because it was convenient, and it was the senior section. They were from different neighborhoods, such as Brighton, West Roxbury, Roslindale, and Dorchester.
table 2. The second table had an unbalanced ratio of females to males. They were freshmen and a fairly diverse group: a few Asian females, an Asian male, and the rest white females. They sit there every day, claiming it was because there was no point in sitting somewhere else. Their proximity to the vending machines might have had something to do with it as well…. Most did have snacks from there along with their bagged lunches, but a few had school lunch. They shared some of the same classes, and had been in Connections the previous year. Other than that, they were from different neighborhoods, such as Dorchester, South Boston, and Hyde Park. Now that I think about it, those neighborhoods are predominantly Asian, white, and white, respectively.
Table 3. This table was predominantly black males, with one Asian male and one white male. They were juniors, and from Dorchester, Roxbury, and Hyde Park. They sit in the same place every day, again, out of convenience. They shared some classes together and a few of them played sports together. Most had school lunch, and some had bagged ones.
I found the younger kids tend to gravitate towards the middle of the dining hall (perhaps because it is quicker for them to get into those lunch lines?) while obviously, the seniors sit in the senior section and some of the sophomores and juniors sit on the other edges. And I found that while there are very limited tables that are exclusively of one race, there are very many tables where there are majorities. This is most apparent in the senior section, maybe because we have been together longer. For the other tables, while the people within the tables are generally in the same grade, that same relationship does not necessarily exist among surrounding tables.
Beverly Tatum’s assessment of the racial grouping is interesting, because as we have grown older it has become more noticeable that our grade is particularly cliquey and we form those cliques, in part, because of our ethnicity. Some have found that it is just easier to be around people who supposedly have more in common with them. And those who do not fall under such categories and generally hang out with people not within their racial group are sometimes called “whitewashed,” are said to “act black” or to “be so Asian.”
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Old 10-29-2009, 08:32
Bob Stewart Bob Stewart is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Boston
Posts: 31
So, why do you guys sit together?

I decided to interview a table in each section of the dining hall, not including the senior section. Everyone said they sat at the same table everyday with the same people.

The first table I interviewed consisted of all ninth grade girls. They were a racially diverse table, consisting of whites, Asians, and blacks, and all of them were laughing and interacting with each other as I approached the table. They said they sat together because they were friends, and because they were all loud and talkative. They knew each other for one to two years, but did not live in the same neighborhood or do the same extracurricular activities. Different groups of the girls shared classes together: the classes they shared included math, history and Italian. When asking questions to this table, there seemed to be two spokespersons that relayed the answers to the questions to me. They told me they were the “opposite of other tables” because of their diversity.

The second table I interviewed was one of the long tables in the middle of the cafeteria. The table was actually divided in half; two different groups were sitting there, but did not interact with each other. The half I interviewed consisted of white eight grade boys who looked to be middle class. They said they were all B to C students. Like the first group, they said they sat together because they were friends, but did not share the same taste in sports or music, or live in the same neighborhood. They all met last year, but were not in the same cluster. They said they met each other after school in the previous year, but would not disclose what they were doing at the time…

The third group I interviewed also happened to be eight graders. They were all Asian boys, and were obviously miffed that they were being asked these questions so many times (“Somebody all ready asked us. Twice.”) They started yelling out random things, and pointing in random directions. Needless to say, I was simultaneously confused and horrified. Just as I was about to leave, one small boy took pity on me, and told me they all were in the same cluster last year. Four of them have the same R5 class. Their grades ranged from A’s to C’s. The said they lived far away from each other. One boy elaborates, “I live in Roxbury and he lives in Charlestown.” However, they did not sit together last year.

Overall the cafeteria seems to be more divided by grade than by race or any other factor. Like NEVADA says, there is not a White, black, Hispanic, or Asian section in the cafeteria. However, there is a senior section, where only seniors are supposed to sit. Freshmen and sophomores tend to gravitate toward the circle tables on either side of the cafeteria and sixies and eight graders tend to sit in the longer tables. There was also quite a bit of gender division between tables, especially as you were looking at older grades. Sixies tend to have the most diverse tables; my guess is they sit with a combination of old friends and new friends from their cluster, which results in a more diverse table.

Beverly Daniel Tatum’s article tries to explain why all the black kids sit together in a school cafeteria, but her reasoning could be extended to other races. It is undeniable that many tables are predominantly one race, whether White, Black, or Asian. People are well aware of the fact (someone in my first table said her table was different because of their diversity). People separate themselves into races because they want to find people that they can identify with. Children do not tend to divide themselves by race, but end up doing so as they grow older because they feel people of the same race will understand their problems more. I also believe people of the same race tend to feel more of an instant connection to each other because they already have something in common to each other.

Last edited by Bob Stewart; 10-29-2009 at 08:34. Reason: Sorry! I noticed a typo and had to correct it.
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Old 10-29-2009, 08:42
thelittlefoxes thelittlefoxes is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Boston
Posts: 30
As I was running around the dining hall looking for good prey, I snagged three tables. I regret that the last one had a person I knew, but anyhow, on to my findings

Table 1 was a round table on the far side of the main entrance. There were 8 boys – freshman – who sat there regularly. I asked them why and they told me that most of them have been friends for a year, even two. They were all in the same grade, and there was a mix of bought lunches and packed lunches. They always sit at that table together. I noticed that the majority of them was white, with 2 or 3 being “minorities”.

I moved on to Table 2 on the other side of the dining hall, closest to the main entrance. The table was all girls, and I noticed that all of them had pack lunches. All the girls were white. I asked them what grade they were in – they were in the 8th grade. They told me that they sat together because they were friends and that they didn’t know anyone else at this lunch. I asked them if they had any other reasons. Most of them had the same classes together. One girl candidly told me that they “were all part of the School Spirit Club”. I smiled, thanked them, and moved on to the next table.

Table 3 in the central section, whether it was a good or a bad thing, had a junior whom I knew. He sat there regularly with his friends, all juniors. I noted that all of them were Asian males. They too sat at that table regularly. At this table, there was a mixture of school-bought lunch and pack lunches. A couple of them live in Charlestown, others in Allston/Brighton. Most of them do not have too many classes together, which brings that friends-since sixie-year aspect into mind.

I cannot really say too much about demographics in each part of the cafeteria. A lot of people, and I think I agree, that the younger kids stay near the center tables in order to be closer to the lunch lines, and that freshman to juniors spread themselves out along the edges. Some of them even try to sneak into the senior section. And seniors, of course, dominate the senior section. I noticed that generally the further up a grade you go, the more likely it was for kids to be clustered around others of the same race. This may be due to familiarity or some sense of self-assurance, but whatever the case, it happens. Even in the senior section, only 2 or 3 tables were "mixed". Of course, race isn't necessarily the only factor that determines where one sits. I have to agree with splee2 about the jocks, cheerleaders, those kinds of tables, like in Mean Girls.

After reading that excerpt by Beverly Daniel Tatum, I can honestly say that I'm not surprised by what goes on in the cafeteria. I was surprised at how much of what I believed at initially matched what she said about growing older and being more race-conscious.

"People are capable of wishing for anything they think they want. It could be happiness or unhappiness. We're all free to wish without limitation. We can even wish for things that will harm us."
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Old 10-29-2009, 12:13
alexithymia alexithymia is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Boston
Posts: 21
Cafeteria Survey

My first table was a table of eighth graders sitting in the senior section, which perturbed me, but I made no comment. When I questioned them, they told me that they always sat together in the same place everyday. They said they sat together because they were all friends. They were all white, save two Asians.
When I asked them why they chose that location specifically to sit, one boy said that it was because the place where they had originally sat had filled up with "too many Asian people". After saying that he instantly claimed that he wasn't racist and pointed to the two Asians at his table, and said he was merely stating that there were a lot of Asian people there so they had chosen to relocate.

The next table I interviewed was a large table of mainly seventh and eighth graders. Many of them lived in the same area and a few of them had been friends before attending BLS. This table was mostly white, but it had 2 Asian girls.

The next table I interviewed was a group of eighth grade girls. These girls were extremely similar. They were all white, all lived in West Roxbury or Roslindale, all had similar lunches, and they were all dressed in clothing from Abercrombie. They said they sat together because they were all friends.

The last table I interviewed was a group of tenth graders. This table was almost entirely Asian except for one white girl. They said they had always sat together and were all friends. They all bought school lunch and interestingly enough were all wearing gray that day except for the white girl and one Asian guy.

I don't think that our school cafeteria is really set up by race, so much as it is set up by age. There seem to be clusters in the cafeteria where you see an overwhelming amount of kids from one grade rather than another. I agree with NEVADA though that the younger kids are more racially diverse. I know that at the junior and senior tables, you're more likely to see things set up by race more than anything else. I think that it relates back to what Tatum says, that people gravitate towards more towards people who understand what they're going through and can sympathize.
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Old 10-29-2009, 15:38
Zlatan Zlatan is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 30
First Table: long tables in middle of dining hall
-Sixies, did not know any of the people in their table
-Only friends had different lunches
-live in different neighborhoods
-some in the same classes and homerooms.
-diverse : Asian, Black, White
-most bring lunch, few buy

Second Table: left side of the dining hall
-five Sixie girls (all Asian), 3 boys they don't know.
-some girls went to same elementary school
-live in different neighborhoods.
-all bring their lunch from home.
-some in the same homeroom.

Third Table: right side of the dining hall
-7 junior Asian girls, 1 junior Asian boy.
-some doing homework instead of eating, have some classes together and knew each other from previous years
-friends outside of school, some bring lunch, some buy

For the most part, the students in the 7th and 8th grades sit together in the center of the dining hall at the long tables. They sit with the same people in the same spot every day. People who have the same classes sit together and people who knew each other before BLS sit together. Race comes into play when you realize that its really only the White and Asian students who eat at the same table and the same goes for the Black and Hispanic students. The center section on the whole is not segregated, no one race has singled out a corner and claimed it, but the tables themselves are divided on ethnic lines.

Grades 9 through 11 sit on either side of the long tables at the round tables near the windows. The juniors generally sit closer to the windows. Here the students are divided along sexual lines rather than by race. Girls sit wih their girlfriends and guys sit with their boys. The same divisions of past friendship, neighborhood, and common classes apply, but their are very few sexually diverse tables, although they are slightly more racially integrated. This makes sense b/c classes at BLS force students to meet and socialize with new people of different races, but we still gravitate toward people of our own sex, share classes, and live in our neighborhood, even if they are of a different race.

The Senior Section is a puzzle. Once again, the Black and Hispanic students sit together, as do the Asian and White students, but sometimes you will see Asian students sitting with Black students. People here congregate by gender as well, except for the stray boyfriend or girlfriend. Students sit with thier old friends from clubs and sports teams and rarely move around at all, which is not the case in the rest of the dining hall. However, it seems that people no longer only sit with neighborhood peers or classmates unless they've all just comes from the same class.

Conclusion: scared Sixies and insecure 8th graders cling to each other for moral support in the groups that they formed in grade school and middle school. 9 through 11th graders are more secure and more inclined to make friends among their classmates, despite their race and unfamiliarity. Seniors keep ther 9 through 11th grade friends in senior year and rarely diversify. Sex and race seem to be the biggest divisions in the BLS dining hall.
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Old 10-29-2009, 17:18
Fried Laughter Fried Laughter is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 33

Table #1:
Table #1 consisted of all juniors. They were all girls except for one boy. They were all Asians and they were all in the same math class during R5. When asked whether or not they’ve been asked these questions before, they grumbled a yes, but were still very nice about it anyway. Most of them live in Chinatown, some live in Brighton, and other in Charlestown. Only one person brings their own lunch and the rest of them get free lunch at school.
Table #2:

Table #2 consisted of all eighth graders. They were all girls and very diverse. There were about three white girls and 4 black girls. Or almond colored and ebony, respectively. They all talked with their mouths open and full of food. They were very open about their answers and all of them were very intrigued by the questions I asked them. They all brought their own lunches and come from all parts of Boston, including Charlestown, Dorchester, Allston, and Westie.

Table #3:
Table #3 consisted of all eighth grade boys. They were all very down to earth. Most were Asian, or white, there was one black boy. They all thought I was doing a questionnaire for Mix It Up day, that’s why one boy ‘hated’ me. Overall, they were very nice. They come from Charlestown, Chinatown, and Dorchester. They met each other last year as Cluster B sixies. None of them have the same 5th period class, but they still found each other.

In general, I think everyone is different. Some kids group together because of past experiences or past friendships, others try to sit with popular kids, and most simply sit with their friends. It’s just a coincidence that most of their friends are the same race as them. Most kids with people they’re in agreement with, the people they have things in common with, and some don’t sit with anyone because they simply don’t have anyone to sit with (probably a lack of similarities) Just like in the article described, it’s somewhat instilled in peoples’ minds that it’s customary to sit with those of our own race just because we’re similar in most ways – but I think at the same time, it’s important to realize that an Asian who plays 5 sports has much more in common with a white girl on one of her sports teams than another Asian girl who simply studies all the time. At BLS, we do see this occur – and it’s a great thing to see many diverse tables in the mix of the non diverse ones.
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Old 10-30-2009, 04:13
CamiellaT CamiellaT is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 29
Why do people sit together at lunch?

Over the past few days, I recorded the data I collected from talking with people during lunch.

Table A: ninth graders, a group of boys, mostly Caucasian with two African Americans and one Asian. They together everyday in the same spots. They sat together because they have classes together and went on the bus together. They live in the same area and enjoy watching and playing the same sports (basketball and soccer). From the way they are sitting, it seems they know each other well and dress similarily. They like the same music and eat the same food from the cafeteria. None are wearing glasses although one has braces/retainers.
Table B: juniors, a group of girls. They sit together in the same table everyday, but sometimes switch seats. They have classes together. They are the only people they "know" in that lunch. They are a mixed group of Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian. They feel like they can talk to each other. They don't live near each other, but they do clubs together and all take Spanish. There is clustering of the different races though.
Table C: Seniors, All Asian. Sit together because they like each other. They get lunch together and like to talk to each other. They don't live in the same area, but they have meet to hang out after school all the time. They feel comfortable together. There are girls and boys at this table, although there are slightly more girls. The seem the most cohesive as a group, being able to shout across the table and collectively discuss a topic.
It really seems that race does play a factor in influencing how students sit together. The first table is a group of sporty boys who are able to cross race barriers by being interested in the same sport and seeing each other on the bus and during classes. The senior table is completely Asian and part of their "comfortable"-ness has to do with similarities in race. The mixed group of juniors seems to be hopeful for our school because there is a bit of everything in that table, although they switch seats often and in that table racial divides are easily identified as different races of girls cluster together in the table.
I cherished the belief that our school is far more diverse than Mean Girls and somehow we must be better than stereotypes, but apparently not by much. I never knew how divided we were as a school in terms race and gender. It was difficult to find many tables with mixed races and harder still to find a table with girls and boys in near equal ratio. Neveda wrote that "Overall, there wasn’t a general pattern of tables in the cafeteria." And this is very true, while at the same time many tables were predicable. There are "Asian" tables and "Black" tables and "White" tables.
The article really emphasized that there is a great racial divide. It was really interesting to see the logic broken down for you. As we enter puberty we began to question our identity and where we "belong". At the same time it is clear that other people are also searching for themsevles. Why is it easier to find themselves with people who look like them? I feel that it is interesting to see that we surround ourselves with people who look and act like us in the hopes of finding our idenity, even after we worked hard to create and foster one already.
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