How I learned to love my ethnicity

I Love My Ethnicity, You Can No Longer Make Me Feel Embarrassed For Who I Am

Using microaggressions against someone's ethnicity can cause them to feel shame in places they didn't know they could feel shame

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Third grade: I was around nine years old when I first felt embarrassed about my ethnicity.

A kid in my class started making fun of Indian food. He started talking making fun of Indian accents and probably very unintentionally, made me feel so inferior and embarrassed. I remember wanting to hide.

Freshman year of high school. I was sitting in science class when a girl walked up to me. She kinda looked me up and down and said: "So, do you like to make pottery or something?" I was immediately taken back. All I could say was "What?" (Now, if this would have happened today, I would have come back with a wittier response, but I had not grown into my confidence quite yet). She didn't take the hint that I was feeling uncomfortable, so she proceeded to ask more demeaning questions. "Have you ever ridden an elephant before?" "Do you have normal birthday parties, or do you weird things?" I remember my face getting warm and my palms getting sweaty. I shifted in my chair just said, "Nope, haven't done any of those things" in the timidest voice.

I wish I could tell you that those very derogatory questions meant nothing to me, that I brushed them off and went on my merry way walking in confidence in who I was.

The reality of this situation was that those words did not just brush those off. I remember feeling so annoyed and so hurt at the same time that I couldn't say anything to defend myself and that I just let myself be subjected to such embarrassment that I did nothing to deserve.

At that point in my life talking about my ethnic background was one of the most uncomfortable things for me to do. I always felt so separated by everyone else around me and I felt like there was no room to be proud of this part of my identity. When I was in high school, people weren't interested in truly knowing about my ethnic background. They asked questions to fill the void of their own ignorance, which ends up hurting the person they're talking to along the way Indian culture is something that has been warped into stereotypes on T.V. shows, and any other public outlet. And because there are some people that are unaware of how to properly talk to someone about their background, you get statements like this:

"Where are you from? Oh, sorry! That was probably racist."

In the public eye, I was very shy about talking about this part of my identity. I found myself wanting to quickly change the subject every time it was brought up. I had yet to find my confidence within that part of me.

Fast forward some years to where I am today, my perspective of my ethnicity has changed dramatically. And It's been the most life-giving and beautiful journey. I have recently been reflecting on the reasons why I now love my ethnic background and how I wouldn't change that for anything in this world.

I love that Indian food is a staple food in my life, a life without goat curry would be a sad one. I love that my mother speaks such a beautifully complex language. I could listen to her speak for hours. I love how intricate the clothing is.

Every detail is sown with such intentionality. I love that through becoming more immersed in my ethnic background, I've been able to fully grasp how amazing it is to hear prayers and songs of worship in a different language. It reminds me that God is near to everyone in such an individual and special way. And I love that family is so valued in this culture. It reminds me that God is so incredibly intentional with every person he places in my life. Each and every person. These are a few reasons that I've come to love and cherish this part of my identity. Although the journey to this love was a long one, it was worth it. I'm thankful that as I've gotten older I have gotten more confident, and in return, I've developed more pride for this part of my life.

If I could go back in time and sit down with nine-year-old Christina, I would tell her not to feel shame. I would cup her face in my hands and tell her that this part of her is beautiful, and she should be proud of it. I would tell her that no one can take this part of you away and you should walk with that confidence with your head held high. And lastly, I would tell her that this part of her identity is something she should be proud of.

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Equality is a right given to all the citizens of the United States of America, and the quote “all men are created equal” was a central idea in the Declaration of Independence, one of the most influential documents in our country’s history. Equality is everyone having the same fundamental rights, no matter the circumstance. Equality is everyone having the same worth. Although equality is a key tenet dating back to the founding of our country, it is not fully honored, even to this day. Many minority groups do not receive complete equality, both economically and socially. Equality is a lofty goal our country still strives toward.

We must keep continue to strive toward equality in this day in age. Already, our nation has progressed. We have given all citizens the right to vote, the rights to many basic freedoms citizens of other countries simply do not possess. We have the right to free speech, more freedom than 40% of the planet. We have the right to bear arms, the right to fair trial, among numerous other freedoms.

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Cover Image Credit: Surge

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How The Rhetoric Of 'White Privilege' Is Used Incorrectly

Social Commentary: Maria Costello

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White privilege is a term that has been thrown around in American politics without the right context or consideration for what it means. The most common use of this ambiguous term in modern political conversation is that it acts as a social force that advantages the white community by affording it "perks" that minority races are not afforded. Furthermore, because this force advantages those of white skin tone, the white community is therefore unaware of its advantages and cannot speak to the "suffering" of minorities. In the current political debate, this term has been used in such a way as to go so far as to shut down the success of non-minorities by chalking up their success to their so-called privilege.

This use of white privilege is highly problematic. Firstly, it conflates privilege with racism. This is an important notion to consider because it misrepresents the term in a way that lends itself to miscommunication. It has become a term in modern conversation used to shut down those who are not of minority status; therefore, instead of speaking about white privilege for what it is, a false correlation between being privileged and being racist has developed. Simply because someone was born with supposed advantages does not mean that he is oppressing those who were not. The way that white privilege is used in the news assumes that if you are not of the minority, you must, therefore, be contributing to the marginalization of that minority by nature of your privilege. This notion is ridiculous because it assumes that America is inherently a racist country where the reason that white people get ahead is because of their privilege. It is easy to blame the advantages of one race over another on racist ideology; however, white privilege has nothing to do with racism itself. In fact, white privilege is no different than normal privilege, but by coining it as "white", the term has been weaponized in politics to shut down certain points of view.

The environment that a person grows up in can afford them privileges that others don't have. When one group of people has advantages another does not, that is called privilege and it is no different when it comes to white privilege. White people have advantages that minorities do not. That does not make white people inherently racist, it simply means they have advantages. Let's take a closer look at the most popular example of white privilege cited in modern political conversation: Living without the fear of being arbitrarily racially profiled.

The most commonly referenced example of arbitrary bias against the black community regards unfair assumptions of criminality. There are a few aspects of white privilege to consider when looking at this issue. In regards to mortality rates at the hand of cops, yes, according to whole population statistics, black people are more likely to get shot by police than white people. However, according to accredited professor Peter Moskos at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, for example, when the statistics being used are looking specifically at homicide cases in the black vs white community, white people are more likely to die at the hands of the cops on the scene of the crime than blacks. This statistic gets skewed in whole population data because the rates of murder cases are far higher in the black community; therefore, on the whole, more African-Americans die.

To be clear, this does not debunk the existence of white privilege. There is clear proof of arbitrary racial profiling against the Hispanic and African-American communities when it comes to law enforcement. However, according to Department of Justice crime statistics, a much larger percentage of the African-American and Hispanic communities commit crimes than in the white community. What this leads to is a social generalization that is formed against disproportionately violent minority communities which says, "if you are part of that community, you must be violent." This assumption, of course, is false, but it creates a bias where people become more wary of those communities. This does not occur because America is racist. This does not occur because white people are privileged. This occurs because there is a legitimate statistical basis for this bias.

So, after all this, what is white privilege? White privilege is the bias that exists against minority groups that do not exist in the white community. It has nothing to do with actual privilege. It has nothing to do with racism. It is simply a term used to point out how minority communities are being marginalized. We cannot deny the existence of this marginalization, but we also cannot deny that it has a legitimate factual basis that stems from the very communities claiming to be disadvantaged.

The purpose of this article is not to disprove white privilege. The purpose is simply to show that there is often a misrepresentation of what white privilege actually is. The statistics commonly cited to support the weaponized use of the term do not tell the full story, because they assume that correlation is causation. They conveniently leave out other factors that may contribute to statistics that show racial socioeconomic stratification. We must also be careful how we use this term so as not to conflate white privilege with racism in America. Using this term in order to shut down the voices of non-minorities hinders thoughtful debate and does not lead to the betterment of minority status. We should be striving to find common ground through clear communication in order to combat true racism instead of contributing to the division among racial lines through the misuse of terms such as "white privilege."

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