With growing tension in politics on social issues such as racism and gender equality, I thought it necessary to explain, as a millennial, a white person and a woman, what exactly it’s like to view our world and where I see us headed, because it isn’t good.
Let’s start with the important topic of racism. Looking at my picture, people might think ‘she’s part of the majority,’ ‘she’s white so she doesn’t understand what it means to be judged by race,’ but most people don’t know my background.
When I was in elementary school, I was a part of the minority: a total of six other white students went to my school. My best friends were Chinese, Native American and Latina. More importantly, their names were Tammy, Elizabeth and Paula. My three best friends and I played together, wished about the future and gossiped about the silly boys in our class, but never once did we hate each other for the colors of our skin. To this day, I miss these girls and the innocence of our friendship.
When we’re young, we don’t see the problems of the world — we’re simply growing into the people we’ll become. My experience has taught me to not see color. I’m perfectly aware not everyone was raised this way, and that color is becoming a prominent issue in this country.
I saw that this past summer when I was in the South for a job. It was clear I was again the minority, only this time I was also viewed as a problem. How could this be? What have I done?
I believe our country has become too sensitive to the fear of racism, which in turn has created even more racism and fear. I find it infuriating that I have to check what I’m about to say in fear it will come off racist. With my experience of race, which has been a diverse and positive one, I’ve only ever learned to judge personality.
Why can’t our world do this? Why is it okay to make fun of me for liking sushi because it’s ‘white’ food, but if I say anything about a different, stereotypical food, I’m racist? I’m also Irish, does that make it okay to laugh at me because I happen to like whiskey and beer over fruity drinks? I like whiskey and beer because they fit my pallet, not because my ancestors liked it. And so what if I did? Other races have their traditions, so why would we judge that?
As soon as we learn these judgements are on the same level, we can come to a solution in understanding and moving forward. I never got the appeal of racial jokes like these anyway. But joking is just the surface. As we’ve seen, racism is an issue because of the violence it sparks and the difference of opinions in an educational or work place.
I stand with people like Martin Luther King Jr. when I say there needs to be a future where we come together. And while segregation, slavery and discrimination in the workplace are illegal, the ideas are still there, and it’s disheartening.
I wonder when the world will work on equality. For now I hope, as a free country, we embrace our rights to express freely and to work equally because it was what our country was built for in the first place. I’m sick and tired of the oversensitivity and the fear of racial violence keeping me from meeting the great people of this campus, this state and this country.
Judge me for who I am as a person, not the color of my skin or the stereotypical things I like, because like every person in this country (heck, in the world) I’m unique, and it’s our job to embrace differences in opinion and ideas in order to move forward in this world, not stand still and destroy ourselves.