My Definition of Equality

Arati - Ashburn, Virginia
Entered on December 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

The last day of senior year, bidding my friends farewell, recalling the infinite memories of high school, and capturing those final moments with the people around you. On this final day, some of my friends and I decided to pay a visit to the community park, where many of us had spent time together throughout high school. As we frolicked through the playground and walked down memory lane, suddenly a woman walked by and told us we were too old to be playing around at the park and that we should leave before we break anything. My friends and I asked her why and told her that it was our park too, but her responses were just a mere “I want my children to be able to play here in the future.” She raged on about being a resident of the community and how she can say what she thinks is right. We responded that we had every right to be there, just like everyone else. Suddenly, she turned towards me and some of my friends and in a crude response said, “Unfortunately there are people like you in this country.”

As my friends responded furiously to her remark, I stood there idle and speechless because it was the first time that I remember a racial slur being thrown at me, in such an obvious manner. I am an Asian-Indian 17-year old girl born in America, who is being attacked by a woman who judged me and my friends based on the color of our skin. What had I done to deserve this? Why should anyone have any right to attack my existence in this country? Why was I looked upon as an outsider in a free country where we are all supposed to be equal? As a citizen, I am given my right to equality, whether it be explicitly outlined in documents or implied within the values of society. I have the equal right to be an American and to pursue the American Dream.

This one instance made me reflect on how the existence of racist attitudes hinders true equality. I am one of many who have been targets of racism. This discrimination only isolates people, leading to a racial inequality mentality. However, sometimes we seem to bring upon isolation and inequality on ourselves. We all fill in ovals or check boxes to identify our race, when we could all be a part of the race marked other or simply human. This inequality is not just brought upon by racism, but also by gender and class. We say we have moved away from discrimination, and yet a glass-ceiling still exists in many occupations. These instances seem to inevitably portray the inequality that still exists in American society.

We envision our country as the melting-pot, where all of our differences come together and portray the diversity of America. However, a true American melting-pot can exist only if we believe that each individual contributes an equal part to diversify America. I believe in assimilating our individual backgrounds and distinct cultures because in the end we all uniformly represent one country. I believe in the accepting every individual as a simple human being, not imposing isolation based on race, gender, religion, class, or creed. I believe in true equality.