This I Believe

Matthew - Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Entered on March 21, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: injustice
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

“This I Believe”

Why would someone ever judge a person by the group they’re involved with? That is the question I often ask myself. This has never been a problem for me. I believe in never stereotyping someone, but instead giving everyone a chance to show me who they really are.

During the fall of 2006 I was with a group of friends and we were stereotyped against. That evening was what got me to believe so strongly against stereotyping. Some of my friends and myself decided to go to the mall that evening. We go to the mall often on weekday nights to help release some of the stress that school builds up on us. There are a few stores we visit often, but the rest we usually pass by without thinking of stopping at. On this evening we passed a home furnishing store and decided to stop in. There were many cool things in the store that were very interesting. Some were dry ice fountains and different statues. From the moment we walked in the lady behind the desk was obviously not happy we were there. She walked up to us immediately and told us not to touch anything. This was fair enough. It is her store and she wanted to make sure nothing was broken. As we walked around she would not leave us alone though. She followed us everywhere and kept saying, “Don’t touch that; it is expensive.” It was also very evident she was making sure we weren’t stealing anything. Many other customers came in the store who were older than us and she did not say anything to them. It was very obvious she was stereotyping us because of our age. Just because we’re teenagers doesn’t mean we were going to break things, or steal.

This whole ordeal was not too big of an event to most of my friends, but it was to me. Stereotyping like that happens every single day and has become accepted by society. In no way should that be accepted, and it needs to change. It happens that the group of friends I was with is a great group of people and would never intentionally break something, or ever steal something. She judged us by our age and did not give us the opportunity to show her that we were good guys, and were possibly interested in purchasing some products. In the long run, the lady lost. She did not have the opportunity to learn that not all teenagers are bad, irresponsible people. She also lost the opportunity of making a profit from us. I learned how it feels to be stereotyped against, and that is why I will never stereotype against anyone. I now know that stereotyping can not only hurt people, but it can also make someone who stereotypes look extremely ignorant. Because of what I learned that day, I live by the idea that everyone should be given the chance to show who they truly are.