We are all the same underneath. The same flesh and bones, the same heart beating fast and true, but our eyes remain deceived by our colorful appearances. But even if we were all raised in a loving, un-exclusive environment, we would still be racist. How? Because our brains would choose to associate with those who share our features, with who we naturally feel most comfortable with. That by itself is not wrong, but to purposefully treat someone differently because of that melanin difference is inappropriate and unacceptable. This fallacy has led to war and bloodshed, and now, it is masked by impoliteness and tension within our already fragile community.
Even as I lived in a world of harsh words and terrible acts of violence, I have always remained immune to racism. Though I am Indian, I have had many trustworthy and compassionate friends who belong to various races. During elementary lunch, I would sit with my Latina friend Laura during my art class, I would paint flowers with my African American friend Janaya during math class, I would complete questions with my Caucasian friend Riley, and during recess, I would play kickball with my Asian friend Steven. I knew each person looked different, but at that young age, the urge to befriend new people overpowered my ability to create a biased racial hierarchy.
But as I grew older, the racist remarks started burrowing into my head. Apparently, Asians always excel in math, and the Hispanics did not care about their education. But all these racial stereotypes contradicted what I have seen throughout my childhood. The Hispanic friend I had, Laura? She was the most hardworking girl I have ever seen —always the first to complete her work and eager to ask questions in class. My Asian friend, Steven? Though he was not a genius at math, he constantly pushed himself in athletics and was the school star at track and field. I started wondering why people would want to generalize a population by providing erroneous rumors, but I never received a solid answer. To this day, I still do not have my answer.
The worst part about our society is that even if an individual is bold enough to defy their race's stereotypes, s/he is still harassed for it. Sharon Chung, author of "Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World," understands this issue better than anyone. Her half black, half Asian friend had been accused of stealing a clock because that person had "looked like a thief." I've had African American friends who perform well in a class but are told that "they are not fooling anyone" and that "no matter how hard they work, they are still unintelligent." So then, is our world a trap? Is it our fate to be bullied for being inferior than others and then bullied again for acting differently than those who share our skin color? How is this fair?
How is it fair that hundreds of men like Walter Scott are killed every week by white policemen just because they "appeared to be disobedient?" How is it fair that every woman with a hijab is seen to be a terrorist just because they follow the same religion that Muslim extremists falsely claim to be members of? How is it fair that a Hispanic man is seen to be more likely to cheat you out of your money than a Caucasian man is?
There is no time machine to go back into the past and erase years of hatred and ignorance. There is no magical cure-all for racism. There is only us, and our insistence on moving forward by forging respectful relationships with everyone, no matter their outward appearance. Skin color does not dictate our financial status, our place on the universal social hierarchy, or our intellectual capacity — therefore, broad stereotyping of a race should not occur. You can only judge people individually, and even if they have some major flaws, do not attribute those flaws to their race. Though our race definitely impacts our behavior, we each develop our own identities.
We have numerous problems to solve in order to make this a safer place for future generations. We must fight terrorism, global warming and widespread hunger. If we are divided among ourselves, then we cannot fight with a strong, united front. So be wise, and accept people for what they are and not what you assume them to be, because we have bigger problems to solve.