While working on homework in my history class, my “friend” looks up at me and calls me a slave. My jaw drops and I feel a lump in my throat – I have no idea how to react. Fear, anger and confusion rush through my body. I ask him to repeat what he just said, but he just laughs which makes me uncomfortable. I realize that my ethnicity is seen in a negative light.
I thought that I was the same as my peers, but this incident made me think differently. The thought of my skin color being the same as everyone else is being stripped away from me.
In your life, walking into a gas station, grabbing a bag of chips and walking right out is a breeze. You might even have a pleasant conversation with one of the staff members named John. Not having to worry about facing judgment when you take a step inside is a weight lifted off your shoulders.
In my life, staff and managers following me around is a common situation. They ask me, “What are you doing?” “Are you going to buy something?” “Where are your parents?” Employees assume that I am going to rob the store or steal merchandise, when I actually have money in my pocket. Getting followed around a store because of my skin color makes me feel like I am a criminal, even though I know I am not.
In your life, if you are a man you don’t have to worry about gender. People often feel that men can accomplish a task better than a woman. The stigma of women being too emotional or weak to do certain tasks is unfair because it undermines their abilities. Being able to earn a well-deserved paycheck and not have to beg for it is your reality.
In my life, once I pursue my dream job, I feel like I will never get paid the same amount as a man who has the same position as me. No matter how hard I’ll try to take a step ahead, there is a strong possibility that I will always fall behind those who are not biracial and male.
In your life, when you get pulled over, your hands get clammy and you might fear receiving a speeding ticket. You’ll panic over getting punished with long-term consequences, like a demerit point or your parents taking your car away. There’s a chance that you’ll have to pay a hefty fine and call your parents to tell them what just happened.
In my life, my mind fills with scenarios of getting shot because I might say something incorrectly or be mistaken for reaching for a weapon when I am only reaching for my wallet. I am about to get my license, but seeing headlines in the news talking about people of color losing their lives because of racial profiling genuinely scares me. Situations can go wrong so quickly–I don’t want to be part of the history of ongoing accidental police shooting.
You don’t have to be in 7th grade to have this experience. You don’t have to be black to be called a racial slur. If you are ever offended or hurt by a harsh comment that someone else makes, it effects you the same way it does to me. No one should be judged by their looks–we are not all the same person, but should still be treated equally.
Have you ever experienced privilege before?