The Issue of Conformity

Michael - Hot Springs, Arkansas
Entered on October 14, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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“There’s no diversity because we’re all burning in the melting pot.” – Immortal Technique, political rapper

Mainstream society in America today is plagued with conformity. A society where people must bend to the ideals, outlook and lifestyle of a pop culture and those refusing to do so are “condemned” as loners and outcasts. This is especially prevalent in the black community. No other group is more critical of itself.

I can’t remember how many times I was labeled “not black” and “white washed” because of something I did or failed to do. For example, on the first day of my freshman year, I was sitting in my first period History class and going through the usual first day jitters. I thought everything was going good for a first day of high school until a girl whom I didn’t even know, just out of the blue asks me if I’m “white washed”. No, her first words to me weren’t “Hi, what’s your name?” or some other clichéd friendly greeting. They were ‘Are you white washed?”.

Was it the way I talked? The book about the Second World War I carried under my arm? Or maybe it was because I didn’t have the “in your face” attitude most black guys did? I didn’t know and still don’t but what I do know is that my first day was ruined.

You see, that is the reality of a pop culture that leaves no room for intellectuals or thinkers…let alone those who are black. If I have a large vocabulary, I am not black. If I actually enjoy reading about Hannibal Barca, Scipio, and the Punic Wars, I am not black. If I think most mainstream hip hop and rappers don’t have any real talent, I am not black. The list of lies and stereotypes goes on and on. One of my teachers told me a story about two smart black students that used to be in her class. She said that they had the highest grades in the class (English) and had even been selected to go to a type of seminar in DC for young scholars are something like that. The two considered the offer but ultimately refused it because they were afraid of what their black friends would say. A great academic opportunity turned down for the sake of social acceptance and conformity. But the real tragic irony here, folks, is that in the past it was white men who said blacks weren’t supposed to be smart and possess intellect. But in this day and age, it is those within our own race who are spouting that kind of mentality. Same candy, different wrapper.

The bottom line is that people need to stand up for themselves and what they believe in for this disease of conformity to be cured, not just for the black community but for our society as a whole. I we fail to do this, we shall indeed “burn in the melting pot”.