This I Believe

Jessica - Indianapolis, Indiana
Entered on January 10, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

An odd conversation caught my attention an inspired me to write this essay.

I was sitting in my Humanities class on Monday when I heard an argument beginning to erupt next. One boy-whom I shall call “John”-and a girl-“Jane”-were debating about Santa Claus, for whatever reason.

These two high school sophomores felt the need to determine how many Santas there are in the world, as well as what their races and religions are.

John stated that there were Arab Santas, White Santas, and several Asian Santas. Jane asked him about the other ones. Were there any Black or Hispanic Santas?

“Yeah, there is a Mexican Santa” John said, “but there aren’t any Black ones,” he said, jokingly. He went on to describe the “Mexican Santa.” A few of the characteristics of this

Santa that were mentioned by John was that he was lazy and dirty. He also stated that this Santa was usually drunk, so not many Mexican kids get Christmas presents and other things of that derogatory manner.

All the while he was talking I was staring at him and saying things like “you should really watch what you say because you never know what the backgrounds are of the people around you.” Now, typically, when I say something like this, I am trying to imply that what the person is saying is offending me or someone around me. Most of the time, the person, or people, which I direct these comments toward, gets the point that I am trying to make, apologizes for the comments, and moves on with their life. This, however, was not the case with John. After he heard what I said, he simply looked at me with a confused look on his face and moved on with his narrative of how the Mexican Santa behaved and spoke poor English. Since he didn’t get the point, I repeated myself, but, this time, with more emphasis. Still, he continued.

This anecdote was an attempt at reaching my point. My point being that you just never know.

Many times I have been offended by comments made about a certain type of people, mainly comments made about Mexican people. I assume this happens because people do not know my cultural background. It is because people have an image ingrained into their minds by stereotypes that they feel it is alright for them to make their ignorant judgments about cultures around anyone not fitting the picture they see when they think of a certain type of person.

I believe that people should become more aware of their words and actions. They never know who they might upset.