Segregation In Friday Night Lights

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In Texas, football is a way of life; people eat, sleep and breathe it. Specifically for the people of Odessa, Texas this is very true. The book Friday Night Lights follows the 1988 Permian High School football team as they made their run for the State Championship. This type of culture that puts football and, everyone involved in it, on a pedestal creates no room for anything besides football to succeed in a town like Odessa. In 1988, when this took place, gender, class and race all mattered a great deal. Bissinger is able to display all these ideologies through football. Off the field this town struggles with the economy depending on the ups and downs of the oil business, it’s socially and racially divided, but every Friday night when those…show more content…
Even though desegregation was implemented, it took a while for schools to actually get desegregated. At the time it was finally put into place, there were three high schools in the Odessa: Ector, which was 90% minority, Odessa High, which was 93% white, and Permian, which was 99% white. People figured the simplest way to integrate the schools would be to move students around, but there was one problem, that solution would have destroyed the football program. Odessa was so worried about ruining the football program, even ten years after the court implemented desegregation Odessa remained a segregated town. In Odessa there is a physical line that split the blacks and the whites, a railroad. The railroad divided the town, the whites lived on the East side, the West side was looked at as the Mexican side of town and the blacks lived in the Southside of town. After ten years of the desegregation lawsuit sitting in the federal court, something was finally changed. Odessa closed Ector High School, which was 90% minority, and split those kids up among the other schools. The closing of Ector started to show the members of the white community that the black students could have enormous value to them, but had nothing to do with academics; it had everything to do with football. The decisions on who would go to each school was pretty much just which black athletes were going to go to Permian and what ones were going to go to Odessa, and which school would have a greater number of black athletes. The line was drawn on the Southside, for the sole reason that it gave Permian more black athletes and ensured they would stay the powerhouse football team in the town. Vickie Gomez, the first minority candidate ever elected to the school board, believes that the only consideration the school ever looks at is football. “Whatever they did, they did not want to hurt the dynasty that was established at Permian. I think it clouded their vision.
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