This I Believe

Sabrina - Harrah, Washington
Entered on January 9, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I Believe in………..Discrimination

You would think that by now Martin Luther King Jr’s dream of a world without racism and discrimination would exist by now. The world today is closer to that dream than it was in Dr.King’s days. But, it still has a long way to go. We still have those people who insist on judging someone’s race by their appearance. And we still have those officers who try to make their day feel great by racial profiling.

I experience discrimination everyday at my job. I’m a cashier, so I deal with most customers that come into the store. Ninety percent of the customers that need assistance are Hispanic. They begin talking to me in Spanish and I will tell them that I don’t understand what they are trying to say. Even though I don’t understand what they are saying I can grasp some words. Sometimes I over hear the customers reaction when they say, “She doesn’t speak Spanish?” When I hear that I feel discriminated against because the customers believe that since I look Hispanic I should be able to speak Spanish, too. As you can see this is one way to feel discrimination. You can be discriminated against and don’t even know that it’s happening. I was discriminated against because I was half Hispanic and because I didn’t speak my “native” language of Spanish.

Witnessing discrimination made me realize that it still occurs today. There was this one time that I got pulled over for having my boyfriend, Michael, in the car. Michael is an African-American. I was driving through downtown Yakima with him in the passenger side when we drove past a city cop. I looked in my rear view mirror and noticed he was pulling us over. I pulled to the side of the road. The Caucasian cop walked up to my window to ask Michael if he was a suspect that was wanted in town. Michael and I looked at each other with confused faces and said, “No”. The officer apologized and said that he was sorry for mistaking him for the suspect.

If you think that’s discriminating, just imagine going through something like that again, but twice in a month in a half. That wasn’t the first incident Michael had to go through when he felt discriminated against. There was this one time when he was riding to Yakima from Moxee in the car with his friend who is Hispanic, when they got pulled over by the police. The police told them that they got a call from someone in the neighborhood complaining about graffiti. Michael told the police that they weren’t involved in that kind of thing. In fact his friend lived in Moxee, and that’s why they were there. The policeman told them to step out of the vehicle, while they searched it and looked for suspicious evidence. Once again the policeman is Caucasian. And once again it was a “mistake”. They told Michael’s friend he was free to go, but that Michael had to stay because supposedly he was wanted in Oregon. The officer read the description of the person wanted in Oregon. The names matched, first name, middle initial, and last. But the description did not. Michael is only 5 feet 10 inches tall and the other guy was 6 feet 2 inches tall. Michael tried telling them that he was never in Oregon and that he isn’t that tall. The officer said, “Is that with shoes on or off?” Michael was discriminated against and felt harassed. They didn’t believe him, so they took him to the police station. He was finger printed. After that was finished, it was found that he was telling the truth. The officer didn’t say a word to him when he was walking out of the police station.

You never know when that time comes when discrimination will ruin that moment of your life. Discrimination surrounds our everyday lives whether we believe it or not. If you’re not a victim of it, then you’ve at least witnessed it before. People thought long ago that discrimination vanished because of our world leaders (Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, and Rosa Parks) who helped mold it into something better. Our world and society will never change because you can’t change the way people think. Nothing and no one can put a stop to this deceiving, crucial, and harsh word of DISCRIMINATION.