A New Twist On an Old Saying

Justin - Manhattan Beach, California
Entered on May 1, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Growing up a child of mixed race has always been an attribute of mine that I have both loved and hated. Recently with President Obama in office I love that I am from both black and white ancestry more than I did when I was teased for it as a kid. As much I also love the fact that Obama is in the Whitehouse, this story has nothing to do with his inspiring rise into the presidency. The event that I am talking about happened before Obama even made it out of the primaries. This story is about a person who is from a completely different race, background, country, and gender than both President Obama and myself. This person has totally changed my view on what it means to be a minority in not just the United States of America, but also the entire world.

This beautiful woman that I am talking about just happens to be the girl that I have been going out with for nearly a year now. Although I would love to go into to details about how happy we are together, and the rest of the mushy stuff that I hate reading about, the moment that changed my beliefs happened about a month before she became my girlfriend.

As I was first getting to know this woman we somehow came upon the topic of how I experienced racism as a young child. I told her about how my teacher in second grade treated me unfairly and later admitted to not approving of my parents arrangement. I also told her about how many fights I got into over being called the n word. She then came back into the conversation stating that she and her brother had been discriminated against when they were younger. As she said this I had to laugh silently in my head because of the way she looked. She happens to not only be white, blonde, and green eyed, but she is also from Germany. While holding back the pompous scoff I couldn’t help but think how could this pretty, white, German ever have been discriminated against. My girlfriend’s fellows Germans were involved in one of the most horrendous acts of discrimination in history. To my surprise I was completely wrong.

The first seven years of her life my girlfriend had lived in Eastern Germany before the Berlin Wall had come down. As soon as her family had a chance to leave East Germany, they hopped on the first train to Stuttgart. While growing up in the Western part of Germany my girlfriend had been just as discriminated for being from East Germany than I did for being black. She had been constantly insulted by her own teachers, and was told she was stupid by them repeatedly. My girlfriend recently graduated with a 3.7 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. When I heard this I understood that now matter how you look there can always be a reason to be discriminated against. I also realized that I had held some prejudice towards by not believing that a Christian German could ever be discriminated against. This gave me a whole new outlook on the classic reminder to myself to not to ever judge a book by its cover.