This I Believe

Emilee - Clinton Twp., Michigan
Entered on December 10, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: prejudice

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

“Hating people is like burning down your own house to get rid of a rat. “

–Henry Emerson Fosdick

A young boy sits isolated in the corner of his seventh grade classroom. Surrounding him, all he can hear are the children’s voices in unison taunting him with names such as “freckle face, train tracks and freak. ” Their laughter makes him feel even more insecure. He focuses on anything but what’s happening right in front of him. Transferring to a new school seemed like the worst thing that had ever happened. He restrains the tears from coming, while he holds all the anger and pain inside. Although he is surrounded by so many, he has never felt so alone.

Staring into the mirror in front of him, a young man studies the swastika on his upper arm. After running his hands over his freshly shaven head, he reaches for his tight fitting Skrewdriver shirt. Attached to his cut off jeans are red suspenders. He then laces up his black steel toed boots. Before leaving, the man grabs his flight jacket and steps out into the brisk winter night. Inhaling the smoke from his freshly lit Marlboro Red cigarette, illuminating he turns up his music, Johnny Rebel blasting from his green 1994 Ford Taurus. The bright radiance from the moon lit up the street where the Neo-Nazis were meeting. Tonight, there was a hateful look in his eyes. He steps forward, eyes his audience and launches into his rant. “Listen up; we need to open our eyes. Day after day, black people are being chosen for jobs over whites because of affirmative action. We need to start defending the rights and pride of the white American family. Today’s society is filled with social parasites. Browns, blacks, yellows, reds. I hate them all. Every social problem has to do with racial issues. Immigration, AIDS, welfare. They’re all draining the good out of America. I hate anyone who isn’t White Protestant. They’re all a burden to our race. They are our enemy. ” The speech enrages the skinheads and they were ready for tonight’s destruction. He felt power with the men behind him. He felt safe and accepted. With people who felt the same hate and the same rage that he did.

These stories seem like complete opposites. Would you believe they are the same person? Teased in his youth, this young man became influenced by these ideas of hate. There’s something seductive to the sense of strength and group belonging. Superiority over others is alluring. And he fell for this illusion. The person closest to me, my own brother.

Even though I am not racist or prejudice, I am still affected by this hate that enraged my brother. Living with a white supremacist didn’t force me to become racist or have racial views, but I became familiar with derogatory names and racial jokes. I witnessed a frustrated young boy become a hateful man. I didn’t become angry with him or disappointed. I accepted that he had his beliefs and I had mine. We both respected that. However my brother’s choice to become a neo- Nazi did affect me. It made me more aware of why there are wars, terrorist attacks and controversy throughout the world. I view everyone as my equal, because to me, skin color doesn’t mean anything. But that doesn’t mean we should just ignore this hate and learn from it. My brother found power in numbers because he was isolated as a young boy. As he grew up, he became more hateful of those who didn’t accept him. I believe everyone should be friends, accepting one another for who they are, not what they look like.

When we hear the words racism or prejudice, we think of the South during the slave trade, taking away the Native American’s land or Hitler during the Holocaust. But the fact is that racism hasn’t died. It’s still around and many people just choose to ignore it. It sickens me that people are hated because of the color of their skin. Racism isn’t just targeted at blacks. Whites, Asians, Native Americans and Mexicans are all victims. Many Muslims are discriminated because of September 11th. Jews are still hated and gays are also being singled out. Even women, no matter what color, are treated differently. There are men who believe that they are superior in every single way. William Hazlitt wrote, “Prejudice is the child of ignorance.” He was completely right. People that believe they are better then someone else because of a skin color, religion, sexual preference or even gender, are ignorant.

Consider Hitler’s “Aryan Race.” He wanted the whole entire world to have blond hair and blue eyes and to be white protestant. Hitler showed hypocrisy with all his beliefs. He had brown hair and is even rumored to have been Jewish. What’s also ridiculous is that, Jesus was a Middle Eastern Jew. He was born in Bethlehem and moved to Jerusalem, many discriminate against Middle Easterners and Jews. While their own Savior fits their description of disgust. It’s hypocrisy and it’s ignorance. Ultimately the real root to our problems is the lack of acceptance.

We are helping spread bigotry with racist, sexist and religious jokes, ethnic slurs, and even hateful comics. Today, the stereotypes of every race haven’t died. Every single African American likes rap, is a gangster, steals, runs fast and sells drugs. Women are only good for cleaning and cooking. All Mexicans that live in America are illegal and mow lawns for a living. Every time there is a Muslim in an airport, he has a bomb or is a terrorist. Every Jew is an accountant and has a lot of money. And all white men are hopelessly uncool and racist. These stereotypes exist everywhere. Are we doing anything to stop it? Anywhere you go, you can hear ethnic slurs, racist, sexist, homosexual and religious jokes. No one even seems offended by them. Even if they are just jokes, what does that say about our society? Since when is it socially acceptable to make fun of minorities?

And where is my brother now? Dead. Where did his hate lead him? Nowhere, and his so called “army of friends” weren’t there to stop him when he pulled the trigger on himself. I loved my big brother more than anyone. I accepted him and I cared about him. He couldn’t see that, because he was blinded by his hate for those who didn’t accept him. I’ve watched hate grow. I’ve seen how it affects everyone around it. I’m sick of the hate. I’m sick of the ignorance behind it. We hate what is unfamiliar and instead of trying to understand others, we choose to ignore them with hatred. I believe in understanding, acceptance and equality. If only my brother had felt that way too.