Friday, July 19, 2019

The Innocence of Yesterday :: Ethnicity Race Racism Essays

The Innocence of Yesterday When my dad sees a black person, he always says, black dude. He says it with a bitter taste in his mouth. He utters it to me as if to make sure that I take note that the person is black and therefore also a dude. There is no purpose in his saying this, yet he says it without concern for what it reveals about his racial attitudes. Or rather he does not care what others think of his stereotypes. He may be the only person I know who speaks his mind so recklessly, but stereotypes are pervasive throughout society. All of us attach images and experiences to people we have never met. When I was a child, I absorbed negative views on every race and culture. Hispanics are lazy. Jews are untrustworthy. Blacks are inferior. Indians are dirty. Asians are cheap. When I discovered that I was Asian, I did not know what to think about that. Until elementary school, I did not notice the color of my skin. I, like everyone else I knew, was colorblind. The notion of race did not exist. My friends had brown, blonde, and black hair, and mine was black, too. Straight, poofy, and always gelled to a gleam, my hair should have tipped me off that I was not like everyone else. I assumed that everyone in my family just happened to be born with abnormal hair. There was no reason to think that my friends at school were different from the miniature community of my home. Before school, my mind was innocent of discrimination. I cannot recall one moment where I looked at a person of color and thought of a racist stereotype. I was in a protected state of naive bliss, unaware that the fragile shelter of my colorblindness was soon to collapse. Discrimination forced itself into my life. I remember the first time I felt discrimination. It caused my chest to ache. I was seven, and one of my friends put his index fingers on the corners of his eyes and tugged outwards. He said, "hey Dexter, look. I'm you." I laughed at first. Then the little gears in my head clicked into place, and I stopped. I turned to the mirror behind me and gasped in disbelief. Almond-shaped eyes stared back. It was true. I looked around me, and almost all the kids were white.

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