I’m 20 years old, going to school fulltime and working full-time.
I have been in trouble with my parents. I have learned lessons the hard way. I have fallen in love, back out, and in again.
All of which, I’m sure, every human being has experienced.
I have been discriminated against for being too young, so I must be naïve and reckless.
I have been judged as stupid and irresponsible because of my tattoos.
I have been told I won’t be successful in life as a journalist.
Well, having tattoos does not make my IQ instantaneously drop and my current age does not limit who I am, have been, or will be. Whether I’m black, Asian, mixed or white; whether I have tattoos or not; whether I’m Buddhist or Christian; and whether I’m male or female, doesn’t define me.
It gives me a label, but does not say who I truly am.
I am who I am based on life experiences, how I was raised, and my morals.
Just because I’m a journalist does not mean I’m a liberal, just as a police officer isn’t a pig, a racist, or a hero.
Just because I’m white does not make me racist.
I may never know what it feels like to be a slave fighting for my freedom, but I know what it feels like to be judged because of factors I can’t control.
I’ve been stereotyped as a slut, based on what I wear or don’t wear. I know what it feels like to be told I won’t be as great, or as successful in life, because I’m female.
I also know what it feels like to be judged because I’m white.
Because I’m white, I must be racist and I must think I’m better than everyone and anyone else, well, except a white male, of course.
None of this is true. I’ve never thought I’m better because I’m white. I’ve never thought I got a job or, didn’t get a job, because I’m white.
Here is what I have done.
I have stereotyped. Yes, I admit it, I have stereotyped, just like everyone else on this planet.
I will never knowingly treat someone differently because of their color, religion, sexual preference, or gender, but we are all guilty of thoughts that are based on peoples’ looks or actions.
So, how do we stop this? How do we come together and stop the hate between classes, races, religions, or genders?
Maybe we need to be more kind to each other – accept our differences and connect on our similarities.
Maybe we shouldn’t judge someone until we get to know more about them and what they’ve been through.
Maybe we should stop with the racial slurs and the stereotyping.
It could be as simple as not laughing at racial jokes, blonde jokes, or gay jokes.
What if we’ve only carried on these awful jokes because we’ve been told it’s all done in good humor, so we laugh and we accept.
I laugh when someone makes a sexist joke.
“Hey Mariah, get back in the kitchen,” or “Where is my sandwich?”
But if I laugh every time, the jokes won’t stop, they will only grow. That joke will spread until it seems like a fact that all women should be in the kitchen.
How much longer will we keep accepting the hurt until were not joined together by laughing, but we’re separated by these false “facts.”
Instead of pointing fingers at others, I’m going to try to stop my own stereotyping.
I’m going to try not to judge based on how someone looks or their actions.
I’m going to accept that, yes, we may all look different, think different, talk different, but we are all humans.
We all want to be respected, understood, and accepted.
We need to realize that we’re all capable of doing the same amount of good and evil.