This I Believe

Trisha - Wichita, Kansas
Entered on November 12, 2006

Overcoming Stereotypes

I am black. To some people, the term “black” could refer to their current state of being, or a description of their overall personality. I refer, however, to the terminology used by many people to label African Americans. Do I enjoy it? Absolutely not.

Following my birth, I seemed to automatically fall into my typecast role. My family talked and acted a certain way, and I soon learned to fit in. I noticed around the third grade that I did not possess the same physical traits as everyone else, such as color—most likely because of the fact that I participated in the “gifted” program, and because no other black person entered the program for years.

Being the only black girl in the program, all the other black girls, and most of the black guys, made fun of me. As a result, I defensively shut myself up from the ridiculing and everyone else as a quiet bully. I did not pick on anyone, but if someone came to me for trouble, they most certainly got it, mostly with my fists.

After a time, I wanted to make friends, but did not know how, and thought that quitting the program would somehow enable me to maneuver myself into the black crowd. My dad strongly encouraged me to stay in the program, and I did, but wondered: “Why does he fervently want me to stay?”. After some searching, I found the answer to my question.

Wharton 2

Born in the 50s, my dad remembered a time where racial tension reached its peak, with newly installed integration laws. At that time, blacks worked incredibly hard to receive a decent education, and even then, whites still frowned upon them, and never thought the blacks could ever amount to anything. Such a stereotype lingered for generations. My father wants me to surpass the low standards set for blacks. I believe in overcoming stereotypes.

New standards are not easy to set, though, when I look around and see so many underachieving blacks flunking out of school, having illegitimate babies, getting into fights, and even dressing and talking poorly. It sickens me to see the current condition of my race, and to realize what we stand for to the rest of the country.

I, on the other hand, refuse to bow in to the black stereotype; I want to change it. I want other races to look at my race with love and respect. After all, one changed person still changed, and that person encompasses the capability of revolutionizing anything under the sun, and then some.