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I'd started middle school at a rural school in Iowa, so this was all culture shock for me. I think I learned every curse word in the English language after my first week on the school bus. But even with all of this, I was never more than an observer. I was a quiet, female, bookworm that was in gifted classes, so except for electives, I wasn't part of the general school population. And the one time a girl tried to bother me on the bus (grabbing my book, poking me, making comments) I immediately told my mother, since that was how I was raised. We visited the school office and my assigned seat on the bus got moved. Granted, I was lucky, and, looking back, I realize racism probably played a part in how easily I was believed. There were more POC students than white students at the school, but most of the teachers were white. The girl bothering me on the bus was African-American, while I was a blonde white girl. I doubt they would've been as believing if the roles had been reversed.
After middle school I moved to Northwest Florida, where most of the people in my high school were from military families (Air Force primarily). There were a couple gangs at the other high school in town, but they were nothing like gangs in major cities. There was informal segregation and racism at the school, I'm not denying it, but all the teachers I encountered and my friends encountered were trying to fight it, or acknowledging it. After Orlando, that was another culture shock. I remember seeing a fight once, and hearing about only a handful of others in four years. It really drives home the fact that while informal segregation and racism occurs everywhere, it's affected quite a bit by the location, the school leaders (in Orlando, all the vice-principals were white males, in NW Florida the principal was a white woman and one of the two vice-principals was a hispanic male), and the cultural makeup of the community.
Also, what Mark said about how lunch was done at his school made me so angry. I spent several years on reduced lunch in high school and middle school and the only way anyone could tell was by the fact that I always bought lunch. There were no special colored lunch cards, special lines, or where you were restricted to eat.
And, as always, Mark is unprepared.
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Like, the dedicates want to be fair and do a good job, but they just don't know how to handle Tris and her special abilities. So, when they see someone who can help her, they try their beys to get her with that person. Like an hourly wage employee encountering a situation at work that they just don't have the skills or experience to solve, so they head up the ladder to find someone who does, rather than just trying themselves and, In their innocent ignorance, making the situation worse. Though, that one dedicate should've noticed the phrases she did, especially when Tris could hear.