Stop Overreacting

John - Massachusetts
Entered on May 5, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: race, tolerance

I believe that political correctness has gone overboard. It seems every time I turn on the television there’s another story about a celebrity being in trouble for making a “racist” or “controversial” statement. Everyone from a Golf Week editor to Don Imus has been caught up in controversy stemming from comments they made. It’s getting to a point where it’s difficult for anyone in the public eye to make a statement that doesn’t cause them to get fired or sued.

When I was in high school, I had a group of friends that could only be described as “diverse”. I had one friend who was a Hindu, another who was Jewish, one who was Portuguese and a fourth friend who was Italian. I was the normal one in the group because I was simply considered “white” by the rest of my friends. Everyday I spent with them increased not only my knowledge of their cultures, but my tolerance to pseudo-racism. It’s no secret that men like to joke with each other by tossing out insults and our group was no exception to that rule. Everyday at lunch we would spew racist remarks at each other. We would laugh heartily, knowing that we were being facetious.

One day, my friends and I decided to grab something to eat at a restaurant near our school. While the waitress was taking our orders, my friends were joking around and one of them happened to call my Hindu friend a terrorist. As soon as that remark was made, the waitress made a face that expressed sheer horror. My friends continued talking, unaware they had offended her, while I sat confused looking at the waitress. She clearly wasn’t Hindu yet she was obviously offended by the comment. For the rest of our visit to the restaurant, she was distant and rude to us while serving us. It really irritated me that she was offended by a comment that wasn’t even directed towards her and how she turned a simple joke into a problem merely because it was based on race.

After that day, it was hard for me to watch the news. I would often ask myself, “Why does anyone care about these clearly unintentional racist remarks?” We need to stop being so sensitive to every little thing. If we can, we should embrace the things that make us different instead of bickering over them. The news needs to stop exaggerating and we need to stop arguing for the sake of arguing. I believe once we get past the barrier of racial tensions, the world will be an exponentially greater place. I’m not condoning racism with this essay, but rather I’m hoping that people can see the difference between intentional racism, such as hate crimes or the KKK, and accidental/humorous racism. My belief may be difficult to understand when written on paper, but I truly believe that if everyone lived with the same tolerance that my friends and I do, we would have a lot fewer racially fueled problems.