This I Believe

Janice - Romeoville, Illinois
Entered on May 4, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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“I believe that we must stand up against discrimination”

Growing up I learned about this country’s history and the struggle the people of color had to endure. I learned that they suffered many injustices because of the color of their skin. I always thought that it was a thing of the past and that people learned from their mistakes. I thought that by now people had learned to respect and live with one another regardless of their skin color. Unfortunately, one day I was proven wrong. My story begins in the least likely of places, a doctor’s office. One day I went in for a follow up visit to the optometrist. I went because two weeks before my doctor had given me a pair of contacts to try on and she requested that I go back and either order those or try another pair. To my surprise my doctor wasn’t there so they had a fill in. As soon as he called me in he failed to make any eye connection and he was kind of ignoring me. He proceeded and asked me to sit down.

“What is the reason for your visit today” he asked coldly. I told him that the new contacts were not fitting properly and that I wanted to try something else. He glanced over at my chart, checked my eyes, and then he did the unthinkable; out of no where he lashed out at me. “It’s because of people like you that the world is such a bad place, I hope you know that what you are doing is stealing. You are trial pair chronic abuser and this is the last time I’m going to let you try another pair.” I was in shock. Every word stung, it felt as if he had just slapped me across the face. Immediately after his rude comments he left the office to get me another pair of contacts and then it all finally sunk in.

At first, I thought maybe he had the wrong chart or that there was something wrong with my information. I couldn’t believe that he had just stereotyped me the way he did. He didn’t even know me he was just a fill in. I had been getting contacts every year for the past ten years of my life. As I was sitting there waiting for him to return I broke down into tears I tried to stop but I couldn’t help it. I felt so defenseless and powerless. I didn’t know what I had done wrong. By the time he got back I couldn’t stop crying, I gathered up the courage and I asked him why was he treating me the way he was. All he said was “your people tend to do this a lot; I’m just making sure that you are not stealing”. I was so upset I felt enraged I didn’t know how to react I saw the hatred in his eyes and so I stormed out of the office crying. My sister who had been waiting for me in the waiting room ran after me. I ran to the car in tears; once we were in the car my sister asked me what had happened. I couldn’t tell her. I was so angry and sad at the same time. She wanted to go back and talk to someone but I just wanted to go home and so we did.

That day I learned that unfortunately there are still people out there who judge us based on the color of our skin. I regret not setting that man straight because he got away with treating me badly because of my skin color. I experienced first hand how it felt to be discriminated and since then I have learned to stand up for myself. I was naive to think that discrimination had been phased out. Now I feel that there is no place in this modern world for something like discrimination because in the end we all are made up of the same essence, humanity.