When you first look at someone, what is the first thing that you notice? Is it their skin color? Many times, the answer is yes, whether we choose to admit it or not. Overall, there is nothing wrong with that since the world is diverse. It becomes an issue, however, when you look at someone and automatically judge and criticize him or her based on skin color. I am grateful that my parents taught me the values of respect and acceptance at a young age because those values have always remained with me.
The sad part about society is the fact that racial stereotypes exist, which leads to these "labels" about certain races and cause unfair, untrue biases and criticisms. Could you imagine what the world would be like if racial stereotypes didn't exist? I truly believe people would be much more receptive to others, and racial division would significantly diminish. Unfortunately, this is not the reality of the world today because people choose to accept and believe racial stereotypes, but it doesn't have to continue being that way.
I am fortunate that I was able to attend diverse schools because I was able to communicate and form friendships with multi-racial people. I was often judged because the schools I attended were predominantly white. I'm African-American, but I didn't see a problem with that. I saw it as a learning experience and a chance to interact with people who I didn't typically socialize with. Some of the criticisms I've gotten were harsh. "You're so bougie, wannabe white girl." "You're crazy to think that those girls are actually your friends." Despite the harshness, I wasn't ashamed of opening up myself in front of them. Why should I be? Is it a crime to have friends outside of someone's race? One of my best friends is white, so what?
Diversity within my school didn't include just black and white. I also went to school with Asians, Hispanics and Muslims. When you are in a diverse environment, the opportunities to talk to others and discover their likes and dislikes are endless. I took advantage of this, and it resulted in having a best friend who happens to be Muslim. Despite the stereotypes about Muslims, I chose to ignore them because they were far from the truth. I have learned so much about the Muslim culture and traditions through our friendship: Ramadan, the five pillars of Islam, the Koran, Allah, their weddings, dishes, etc. Her family is so welcoming, humble, and accepting. Basically, everything about her and our friendship opposed all of the stereotypes and labels about Muslims.
It's beautiful to have diverse friends because you become more aware of everything and everyone around you. You cannot let racial stereotypes prevent you from associating with a certain race. Remember that everyone has a story and everyone deserves to be treated with dignity. I guarantee you that you will find joy and happiness in the diversity of friendship. We were purposely placed on this earth to interact with one another and to not limit our relationships with a specific race and reinforce racial stereotypes. Let's spread love and acceptance for everybody.
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