These are my high school friends from Grade 10. I went to a rough inner-city high school that year, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The summer before I started, a neighbour anxiously warned my father that the school was notoriously tough on 'haoles' - that's the derogatory local term for 'white people', who were a minority in the city.
She was right - it was rough. I was one of 10 white kids in that school. We all employed various strategies to survive (my strategy was to befriend a Samoan girl in my choir and use her as my personal bodyguard - it mostly worked, lol!).
But the most common strategy was simple: find the other white kids and hang out with them.
And that's how I found myself on the south steps of the English Building every day at lunchtime. We weren't all white, but we all felt misunderstood and mysteriously different from everyone else (just like typical teens everywhere). I made some true friends there.
Later on, I moved to the 'mainland' and attended high school in a homogenous wealthy suburb where nearly everyone was white. During lunch one day, a new friend complained that the few black students (there were five) always hung in a group. What was up with that?
I understood completely. "Don't judge them" I cautioned her, "until you've walked in their shoes."
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