The Invisible Line

By: Carmen Stephens

Chattanooga (UTC)-The United States is the only nation on earth that had preserved for over three centuries a genetically discontinuous enclave of mostly African ancestry within a larger population of European ancestry. The phenomenon demands study.

Sometimes the things that separate us are often times the things that brings us together. Although we are no longer physically segregated, it is our mindsets that tend to keep us from getting out of our comfort zone.

As a student at UTC, the University Center is a place where students can go to eat, study, or just hang out. Something what tends to get the attention of students is the invisible line in the eating areas. As a spectator, it appears that where one sits is based on his/her ethnicity. However, there are always exceptions to every rule.

Shonda Foublasse, UTC junior agrees that the invisible line does exist in the UC. Shonda said that time of day has an effect on how how noticeable the invisible line is. She said, “It’s usually black people at top, white at the bottom and and a lil mix on the side.” In addition, she charges the seating arrangement to how people were brought up and what makes them comfortable.

Kristie, agrees with Shonda that there is a visual invisible line, but she does not however feel bound to those stipulations. She said, “there is a visual line, but I don’t feel like I am stopped from going to sit anywhere. I don’t feel like I need to stay on one side.”  This is an example of how some people acknowledge the fact the there is a stereotype, but does not let that determine where they sit.

The phrase color line was originally used as a reference to the racial segregation that existed in the United States after the abolishment of slavery. The invisible line could be dissolved if people begin to take the time to get to know one another.  Some people may wonder what all the fuss was about when civil rights leaders fought for equality.

Shanee Driver, UTC sophomore, says that her and her friends have certain names for the different sections. For example they use Africa to represent where the black people sit, China where the foreigners sit, and America where is where the white people sit. She describes “Africa” as being loud and rowdy.  She also couldn’t understand if the people’s decision was intentional or unintentional. She thinks the entire situation is sad but says, “this is just what we have chose to accept as reality.”

This is an example of how some people get so caught up in looking at situations from the outside in, that even though you think you may think you are not directly effected by the invisible line you inevitably fall in the stereotype yourself. 

 PBS did an article entitled “America Beyond the Color Lines” with Henry Gates Jr. The article gives insightful information of his impression of the color line and how it has changed over time.

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