March 2003
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Its Who We Are, Not What We Are
By Eleni A., Grade 9, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

Each of us has been put in a position where we've been made to feel less than everyone else for our clothes or the way our hair is styled, but some people are made to feel that way because of things that aren't in their control. They are put in a lower place of society because of their skin colour, accents, religion and many other things. In this day and age, it would seem logical that such discrimination would be unheard of, but it is still carried out through our stereotyping of others from a certain nationality and being suspicious of someone for the colour of their skin. It is time for racism to end and it is up to all of us to stop it.

Racism starts with one group thinking they're better than the rest. They believe that their way is the best way, and anyone who doesn't do as they do is wrong. They latch on to a difference between themselves and the other group, often something on the surface that they can't change. They ignore all the similarities and focus on how they aren't like the other group. To them, it doesn't matter who the person is, just what they appear to be.

But the other group, the one being discriminated against, is made to feel worthless and undeserving of what the racists take without second thought. This makes them angry, and willing to lash out at anyone. The groups become divided and pass on the racism to their children through example. The fact that we are all humans is forgotten, and we are seen only for our race.

So often someone is judged by stereotypes. We expect all African-Americans to rap and listen to hip-hop. At the same time, we looked down on Snow and Eminem for trying to overcome that barrier and rap. We are each of us limiting ourselves to the stereotypes expected of us.

What is past, is past and even though racism was wrong, we should remember it to keep ourselves from making the same mistake twice. Most importantly, we should learn from it. We should all look at how groups of people suffered under this belief and we should vow never to let it happen again.

If we only look at other cultures, we see that they aren't as different from us as we thought. They are still mothers, fathers, daughters and sons. There is heartache, loneliness, friendship and love. We all have hearts that hurt at insult and glow with praise and acceptance.

What we need to focus on is the person underneath the exterior. What we are born as shouldn't define who we become. We all need to learn to admire the differences as much as the similarities because being unique is what should count, not being able to mimic someone else. We should think before we judge a person for their race because the next time it could be you.


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