Did He Really Just Say That?

Did He Really Just Say That?

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Being a foreigner in America, or anywhere else for that matter, is tough. There is always a cultural and language barrier that takes some getting used to, the climate is different, and even the Burger King menus can vary. As someone who is not from the States, one of the main problems that make this transition to mainland America hard are those “Did he really just say that?” moments.

Before I go on, let’s define this term. A “Did he really just say that?” moment occurs when a person, male or female, intentionally or unintentionally makes a racist, stereotypical, rude, or ignorant comment toward someone who is not from that place. One would think that this would not be a problem in the 21st century, but it happens much too often.

In my case, I have been born and raised in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, but I would come to the mainland United States for summer programs. Fast forward a few years: I’m in my sophomore year of college at Liberty University - very far from home. Even now, I still find myself experiencing “Did he really just say that?” moment.

Coming from Puerto Rico, some of the top comments I have heard that caused these moments were:

1. You're Latino, how come you don’t like spicy food?

2. Why do you say you’re American, Puerto Rico isn’t even a state?

3. Was it hard to get a passport to come here?

4. You must really like salsa music, right?

5. I would have thought it was the Puerto Rican …

And finally …

6. How long was the drive from Puerto Rico to here?

There have been many other moments, but these should help you get an idea of the problem. Keep in mind, however, that this not something that is experienced by only one or two people; chances are a lot of people near you go through this. I would encourage you to talk with students from your school’s international office or even friends from other places. Ask them what their experience has been.

For example, a friend from Chile was asked how close it was to Mexico. Similarly, a friend from Germany was asked if people there still believed in Hitler’s ideals, a friend from Russia was told that he would never go to Russia because it’s so dangerous, a friend from Colombia was jokingly asked if he had brought drugs with him, and so on. These things are actually happening in America in the year 2015.

So now the question is: what do we do now? Well, there’s no single or absolute answer. Racism, stereotypes, and ignorance aren’t defeated in a day. But if you’re still reading this, then that means you probably want to know what you can do to help.

I believe the best thing locals can do to avoid causing these moments is to stay informed and have empathy. Being informed means you won’t say the first thing that comes to your mind. If you’re not sure of something, look it up or wait a while, but don’t just say what’s on your mind. On the other hand, empathy is being able to understand what a person is experiencing. Keep in mind that these people are far from home, most probably everything is new to them, and chances are they’ve probably gone through a few “Did he really just say that?” moments already. Being empathic in these situations means showing them around, teaching them the new culture, helping them understand this new place, trying not to remind them of the place they are no longer in, but helping them see the beauty and good of where they are now.

I had someone like that when I came to the States for college. To be honest, if it weren’t because of this person who went out of their way to do these things and understand me, I probably would have gone and dropped out or gotten depressed.

Be that person for someone. Neither of you will regret it, and you will make a friend for life.

Cover Image Credit: http://giphy.com/search/loki-facepalm

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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The Disrespectful Nature Of My Generation Needs To Stop

Why choosing phone games over a Holocaust survivor was my breaking point.

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While many students that attended Holocaust survivor Hershel Greenblat's talk were rightfully attentive, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a few outlier students tapping away on their phones. They were minute movements, but inappropriate nonetheless.

Immediately I became infuriated. How, I thought, fuming, did my generation become so blithely unaware to the point where we could not proffer basic respect to a survivor of one of the most horrific events in human history?

Perhaps the students were just texting their parents, telling them that the event would run a bit long. 10 minutes later, my eyes diverted from Greenblat back to the students. They were still on their phones. This time, I could see the screens being held horizontally—indicating a game or a show was being played. I wanted to get up, smack the distractions out of their hands, and ask them why they thought what they were doing was more important than a Holocaust speaker.

I will not waste any more time writing about the disrespectful few. Because they could not give Greenblat the time of their day, I will not give them mine. Instead, I want to focus on a massive trend my generation has mistakenly indulged ourselves in.

The Greenblat incident is only an example of this phenomenon I find so confusing. From young, it was instilled in me, probably via Chinese tradition, that elders should be respected. It is a title only revoked when unacceptable behavior allows it to be, and is otherwise maintained. I understand that not everybody comes from a background where respect is automatically granted to people. And I see that side of the story.

Why does age automatically warrant respect? It is the fact that they have made it this far, and have interesting stories to tell. There are exceptions, perhaps more than there are inclusions.

But this fact can be determined by the simple act of offering an elderly person your seat on public transportation. Sure, it can be for their health, but within that simple act is a meaningful sacrifice for somebody who has experienced more than you.

Age aside, at Greenblat's talk, majority of the disrespect shown might not have been agist. Instead, it could have been the behavior students just there for the check-in check-out extra credit that multiple classes and clubs were offering. While my teachers who advertised the event stressed the importance of attendance not just for the academic boost, but for the experience, I knew that some of the more distracted students there must have been those selfish, ignorant, solely academic driven cockalorums.

I stay hopeful because majority of my classmates were attentive. We knew to put aside our Chromebooks, regardless of note-taking, and simply listen to what Greenblat had to offer.

It would be wrong to label my generation as entitled— that's a misnomer for the generation before. We are still wavering between the line of automatic respect and earned respect, but we need to set a line for people whom we know the stories of. Especially a Holocaust survivor.

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