“You laugh at me because I am different. I laugh at you because you are all the same” (Vick Imbornoni). With my sweat-dripping palms and trembling legs, anyone would have thought I was ill as I entered my first day of 4th grade year at Pomerado Elementary. The discerning and scornful looks on the faces of my classmates was enough to burn a hole through my wall of confidence as I was introduced as a new student by Mrs. Woods in front of the whole class. Gossip whispered from ear to ear, group table 1 to group table 5, quickly snowballed into a convulsion of quite giggles from all of my peers. I was the only colored person in the room, and I knew that no one just cracked a joke. If anything, I was the joke.
I, myself, have and am still a target of the African-American stereotype. Although my ethnicity is somewhere around ¾ Filipino and only ¼ Black, I still feel a sense of humiliation and degradation when the color of my skin is used as joke. Sometimes at school when I’m walking down the crowded halls, people I barely know greet me with “Wassup Gangster?” or “How’s it goin’ homie?” It’s irritating to know that people would so hastily generalize my personality based on my exterior, before carefully analyzing my interior.
I am unique. People may find it easy to judge me by the color of my skin, but they do not know what makes me who I truly am. Currently I play trumpet in the highest jazz group in my high school, and I have been the youngest trumpet player in the group since my sophomore year; the rest are seniors. One of my other talents includes making sounds with my mouth, often referred to as “beat boxing,” and I am also the 3- time champ of the monthly recreational basketball tournament. Surprisingly enough, I can also sing. Unfortunately, no one has heard my heavenly voice touch their heart because my performances are always reserved for the bottles of shampoo and soap in my daily shower concertos. These talents of mine are the real ingredients which make up my personality, and no one can say otherwise.
Be definition, a stereotype is “a too-simple and therefore distorted image of a group” (stereotype). Why would anyone want to live up to a “simple” definition? As a young kid I, like most of society, was brought up to dream of my future as an astronaut, a doctor, a lawyer, and even a teacher. Stereotypes only hinder our chances of achieving our goals. They create the spiked barriers between what we want to accomplish in our lives, and the limits set by society on which we cannot exceed. We need to rise above all expectations and become the unexpected. I believe I am more than a byproduct of society’s labeling system. I believe I am unique.