This I Believe

Dan - Sturgis, Michigan
Entered on September 27, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that the color of a person’s skin does not make them who they are. My first hand experiences in the past month have helped me understand this.

I grew up in a small industry centered town surrounded by little farming communities. My childhood and young adulthood knew no race other than ‘white’ on any level of familiarity. During the past month of my life, I’ve gotten to know several African-Americans, and I’ve learned a lot.

One thing that I’ve realized is that the color of a person’s skin doesn’t make them act a certain way. One African-American that I’ve gotten to know caused a problem at our house recently, requiring us to call the police. This really made me think about some things. Unfortunately, one of my first responses was to associate his being African-American with the way that he acted. I can see now that my thinking was severely distorted, and that his race played no part in the bad decisions that he made. I realized that the other African-Americans that I know have never acted the way that he did—nor would they. He only did the things he did because of who he is on the inside, and if I were to associate his problems with the color of his skin I would unfairly be associating those problems with everyone else that looks like him.

There may be cultural differences between myself and people of different races, but I have to remember that these things are superficial. They are merely on the outside shell of a person and don’t reflect on who the person is. The way a person looks, speaks, or dresses doesn’t reflect upon who they are on the inside. We are all human beings and everyone deserves to be able to walk down the street knowing that they aren’t going to be unfairly labeled or judged based on the color of their skin.

Some of my new friends and I have gotten to know each other well enough that I’ve felt comfortable with bringing up issues like this. It’s nice to get to see things from another angle. I’m so glad that I’ve been given the opportunity to meet the people that I recently have, and I hope we continue to become better friends. I have so