This I Believe
I believe that the color of someone’s skin should not affect how they are treated by others. While this may seem like a well-accepted statement, I realized as I grew older that there are still plenty of people in this world who don’t feel the same.
I’ll never forget the first time this became truly evident to me. It was my junior year in high school and I started dating a black boy, Dustin. Dustin was a part of our close group of friends, and we had always loved him. He was funny, sweet, and really easy to get along with. When he and I started dating, my best friend, Allison, asked me, “Are your parents going to be mad?” I didn’t really understand her question. What could my parents possibly be mad about? “What do you mean?” I asked. Allison replied, somewhat timidly, “I mean, he’s black.”
I was astonished. A thought like that never even crossed my mind. “No my parents won’t be mad!” I assured her. “Why would they?” Allison then told me that her parents, two of the most caring and welcoming people I knew, had made it clear that she was not allowed to date a black boy. I was stunned.
Spending time with Dustin meant spending time with his friends, some of whom were also black. I instantly clicked with another black boy, Charles, and although Dustin and I eventually broke up, Charles and I remained close friends. When I would tell people about my plans for the weekend, going to the movies with Charles, going out to lunch with Charles, it seemed I always got a surprised reaction. “You’re hanging out with Charles?” Apparently, it was unthinkable that a nice white girl like me could be friends with a big, somewhat intimidating black boy.
There has always been a history of problems with race relations in this country. And while I feel like we have come a long way as a nation, there is still so much farther to go. We’ve gone from African Americans being seen as property during times of slavery, to fighting for the rights of African Americans in the Civil War, blacks and whites living segregated lives, right up to having a black presidential candidate. That’s progress! Unfortunately, I have heard too many negative opinions of Barack Obama, not necessarily because what he stands for, but simply because of the color of his skin. There is controversy over having a presidential candidate who has such an ethnic name, questions about whether he will try to convert us to a Muslim country because of his Muslim background, and skepticism of whether he is patriotic enough.
Noticing a person’s ethnicity is superficial and should not be a basis for judgment. I believe that we, as an entire nation, need a change. We need to truly accept everyone for who they are, regardless of color. I believe in equality.