This I Believe

mandy - Michigan
Entered on October 4, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

Stereotyping. You see it, you feel it, and you live it everyday of your life. We’re all victims and we’re all the cause. Stereotyping, until now never really fazed me. When I was in school, picked on, called names and singled out was nothing compared to what I have felt in the past few months.

I have always had a respect for people until that respect is broken. As a child, I never understood racism. I remember as a kid, hearing my family members make racist remarks and asking them ‘why?’ only to be fed ignorant answers. When I was eight, I was still oblivious to race, and nationality. People, were people. All human. My parents found out I had a black friend at school. They told me I was never to talk to her again. When they would answer the phone, they would tell her I could not talk. I cried and told them how bigoted they were, even then. Misunderstood hatred. Growing up with a family like this gave me the point of view and strong feelings I have today.

I was working at my high school job, Cashier at home depot. Each day at work, I see a variety of people. The rich, the poor, immigrant, refugee, survivor, dark, light, foreign, young, old, educated, ignorant, relaxed, irate… every mixture of humans within an 8 hour shift.

I’m at work waiting for another customer to come through my line, as a co-worker approaches me. She’s an older black woman, in her fifties or sixties who is very loud and opinionated. She comes over shaking her head and waving her arms, “those damn Arabs! Darkies! Always coming through my line! They…” I notice another figure approaching me and I turn toward it. It is a customer, middle-eastern, dark, with three-generations of family politely making their way up to my line. My co-worker. I hoped she was ashamed because, I was for her. I felt embarrassed, low, disrespectful and hurt that those customers heard that. I wanted to tell them how sorry I was for her behavior, though I didn’t do anything wrong. I wanted to reach out to them and let them know I do not feel like this. I respect your heritage, culture, race, personality, family, and life, whatever as long as you show respect.

I didn’t understand how a person, surely used to being stereotyped herself could do that. She would have been offended had she been in a situation like that. If you know the feeling of being stereotyped, why continue? Each of us, why do we turn on others? Does it faze us we are being stereotyped, labeled and analyzed in return? And, that it doesn’t have to be this way?

Each day I see this happen. Each day strangers label me. I’m done filling down the world’s population as if it belongs sorted out like a filing cabinet. I’m not done wondering why we continue in a circle of hate and misunderstanding? We’re all human. We all feel. We all want a smile. We want to feel comfortable. We want respect. We want understanding.

I believe the world is tired of trying to find unity because all we focus on is the distance between us and mistakes made. The world, faithfully believing in cookie-cutter people. If one is misshapen, it makes an imperfect batch. Inside we all know we are different from our parents, our lovers, our fellow believers, our neighbors, but will not approach the rest of the world with the same perspective.