This I Believe

Laurel - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on February 10, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: equality

White, Black, Yellow, Red, and Tan are some of the colors that make up the “support system” that I have known since birth. Growing up as the only white grandchild in this “support system” led to some very educational experiences. I remember hearing my half-white-half-tan-half-sister share stories about bigoted white adults that had spit in her face telling her to go back to wherever she came from. I was always confused why people would try to hurt my sister with these words. This showed me at a very young age how people in this world can be very prejudiced. My “support system” taught me that although many people are prejudiced, not everyone is, and it is the opinions of independently thinking tolerant people that matter, and not the stereotype of how a race should think. This I believe: that all people are equal despite the stereotypes given to different races.

My family believes in equality but not everyone in the world does. So, my cousins, whom are a mix of white and another color, have experienced racial discrimination first-hand. They all had, except me, until a couple of years ago.

I was part of a summer program at a University, in a group that was discussing Social Justice. I was the only white person in that group. I remember we had discussions on how the families of the people in my class were discriminated against. I always felt awkward because I felt like they were personally blaming me. I slowly began to blame myself for what they were saying despite my personal beliefs.

I was rudely awakened from my world of self-hate when one day, a tan girl spoke up during a discussion and said, “I hate white people.” I became enraged at the fact that I had been blaming myself for terrible acts that certain white people did, while here was a tan girl practically saying she hated me. I immediately realized my fault. I shouldn’t have been blaming myself for the acts of a few ignorant people just because of the fact that I was white and the tan girl was wrong for judging me based on my race. I quickly spoke up and bravely told the girl, “So, you hate white people? Well, why do you hate me? What are your reasons?” The girl was speechless and I went back to listening to the people talk about their families and the hardships that they faced, but they were careful not to judge white people as if they were one person, and I was able to listen without blaming myself for it.

I believe in equality of mankind because I fear that if I do not, the ones whose views that are tolerant will be overlooked and everyone will be judged based on their race. My support system has taught me that, although there are bigoted people in the world, my own beliefs can make all the difference. The saying by Dr. Martin Luther King must hold true. “I believe that ALL men are created equal.” Men may be born equal, but it is the opinions of others that allow them to stay that way.