Do you judge people based on what they wear? I like to think I don't, but to be completely honest sometimes I do. In a way, it's inevitable to form an opinion right off the bat because that's what human beings do. On the other hand, after my experience with the man wearing the "Make America Great Again" hat, I might think about it twice before coming to conclusions. Especially when it comes to political stereotypes.
A few days ago, I lost all my keys and I couldn't get into my car. As the self-sufficient woman that I am, I decided to YouTube my way through breaking into my car with a string and when that didn't work, a coat hanger. Since I wasn't able to get the door open, I was struggling for a good couple hours and in the process one of my neighbors noticed. As he was approaching me, he chuckled a little and asked if I needed help. At first, it bothered me that he laughed at my failed attempt to get the door open and then I saw his iconic hat and I became even more aggravated.
I thought to myself that this stereotypical white Republican male was going to help me and be an a-hole about it afterward. Our interaction started with a chuckle and to me, that was not a good conversation starter. I should mention that considering the fact that I'm Hispanic, I was a little worried he would say something that could offend me and send me spiraling into an unwanted and heated argument. Not that he could tell just by looking at me what my nationality is, but I was still concerned.
In a lapse of a minute, I thought of how my identity could clash with his beliefs. I take pride in being a Hispanic woman and those two things that play such an important role in who I am as a person, sometimes do not align well with people like him...or so I thought. Part of me wanted to be unapologetically true to myself, but at the same time in this situation, I wanted to completely hide who I am to avoid conflict and at that time I hadn't even opened my mouth yet!
Our conversation remained civil and we actually sort of connected in a weird way. We talked for a few minutes and he actually turned out to be a very interesting man. Plus, he successfully unlocked the door for me. If I would've let stereotypes get in the way of engaging in conversation I would've never found out how wrong I was about my views towards this particular stereotypical white Republican male. I felt guilty because I'm sure I've let my views get in the way of perhaps forming meaningful interactions with others and that is not OK.
From now on I will make a conscious choice in trying to set aside my political stereotypes. Not only because it's judgmental of me, but also because I want to experience more interactions with people that are not like me. I want to grow, be challenged, and experience different views. But at the same time, I never want to stop being unapologetically who I am.