This I Believe

Lacy - Columbus, Georgia
Entered on December 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I believe we are not born with prejudice; it is something that we learn. As babies we are innocent, but as we grow, our eyes and ears soak up the words of the world.

I believe prejudice is something we choose. I believe we can choose to be accepting of one another or we can shun one another for each other’s differences. I was born with a difference. At first, I thought my difference did not seem so big, but I soon realized it was a difference I would struggle with my whole life.

I was born with achondroplasia, a type of dwarfism. That means I am shorter than everyone else my age. There are many obstacles that I encounter being of shorter stature including: needing extension pedals to drive, and step stools in about every room so I can reach things, but I think the biggest obstacle that I run into is something I cannot change and that is prejudice.

Everywhere I go there is someone constantly staring at me. I can see in their eyes all the questions that are running through their minds like: why is she so small, how does she get around, can she function? Surprisingly, those curious stares do not tend to bother me as much as the hurtful comments do like: “hey, look at that midget”. Often those comments will come from young children, but most of the time it is because their parents are allowing it to happen. As I grew older, I started to realize the hurtfulness one can have on another by being prejudiced, and I knew that I was just going to have to put up with it. My size was not going to change, and I could not change the world’s view about size. I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to accept everyone being prejudiced towards me, and deal with the fact that living in a world that was not made for short stature people was going to be difficult. I figured that finding a job when the time was right was going to be almost impossible because all employers would hold my size against me, causing prejudice to conquer once again.

Then one day, I decided to interview for a job as a cashier. I remember being so scared about how the manager would think of me. However, this time was different. I finally had caught a glimpse of what it felt like not to be judged. The manager of the store had worked with a person of short stature before, so she knew of the adjustments that would need to be made to make this job suitable for me. She went as far as designing a platform that went from one end of the register to the other so I would be able to reach everything. To this day, I am reminded by the same manager of how shocked I was that I got offered the job, but all I remember is how grateful I was for the opportunity to be able to live a normal life.

The manager of that store has allowed me to be the person that I was created to be. Not once has she ever expected me to be more like the rest of the world, or even shun me because I was different. She has accepted me for who I am, and that is proof that prejudice is by choice not by birth. She has chosen not to allow my size to become a factor in any of her decisions, and by doing so she has given me hope in living the rest of my life in a normal way. People like that one manager can make a difference in peoples’ lives. People like this one manager bring me to believe that we are not born with prejudice, it is something that we learn and choose.