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Am I Equal? Yes I Am.

I am a beaner; I am a wet back, a thief, a ****, illegal, I took your job, I don’t pay taxes, I never shower, I have six kids, I am poor, I have a ****** job, I park my car on my lawn, I’ve been to jail several times, I am a lazy mexican and I’m a waste of space, and I know all of these things about myself because I learned them from you.

It is uncommon for me to hear pejorative stereotypes about hispanics belligerently screamed in my face, and that’s unfortunate.  Everything I know about myself, in terms of stereotypes and prejudice I learned via the exposure to nervous jokes, the media, film, literature, advertisements, the news and the uncomfortable, intangible air that seems to overshadow a conversation when individuals, or groups find out that I’m Mexican.  By most people’s standards, I do not appear Mexican.  I am met with surprised and confused inquiries about my skin color (not being dark), my lack of an accent, and the less common, straightforward party will investigate my inability to “act Mexican”.  These individuals are usually my friends, my progressive, diverse, “politically correct” friends.  Years ago these inquiries would have resulted in the sudden rush of anger running through my veins, ready to present itself through my enraged voice in a self-righteous backlash aimed at their evident racist mind-set.  I would have filed them under the “*******” section in my social data base, never to speak to them again.  Currently, I have filed the angry, self-righteous responses under the “*******” section of my conversation database.  

Prejudice is everywhere and no one is innocent, the easiest way to begin to accept and address this prominent social handicap is by taking a good look at yourself.  Nobody could accurately name a single person that is not in some way prejudice, but we are constantly surrounded by resounding claims of innocence; “I’m NOT racist!” as the frequent address to an issue of a prejudice caliber.  The problem with this habitual, detached point of view is that the underlying dilemma with prejudice will never be solved if we continue to pretend we’re not part of the problem.  Many people seem and continue to enjoy a state of repose after the explosive revolution that took place in the Martin Luther King era.  The sixties gave way to the “first, real public discussion about social inequalities", introducing major changes in the way African Americans were viewed, and treated.  The United States took on the change and after a decreasing amount of violent acts that took place within it’s borders, the masses gave themselves a pat on the back and settled into the reform but a new, ambiguous problem was born.  Over the thin layer of the progressive change lies the undertone of the now quieted racist attitude among the citizens of the United States. 

The revolution of the sixties presented a necessary change in the unabashed hatred directed towards people of color but now we are all inflicted with the inability to address our modern racial issues because it has become taboo.  The fore-runners of the fight against our new-found sub-genre of racism have been utilizing a challenging plan of attack; daring individuals to look at themselves and bringing the prominent issues of denial, and avoidance of racial conversations into the open. 

The Museum of Tolerance opened in 1993 in the hopes it would promote tolerant attitudes and racial understanding.   The way they attempt to achieve change is by creating an experience that would “challenge people of all backgrounds to confront their most closely held assumptions” and making the effort to change.  Upon entering the museum you are greeted with a choice of either going through a set of doors labeled “Prejudice” or doors labeled “Un-prejudice”.  When attempting to go through the “Un-Prejudice” entrance you are presented with glowing letters across the doors that read: “Think now, use other door”.   The museum has found success in it’s ability to examine our sociopolitical   shortcomings in a way that does not allow the visitor to make a wrong turn from the start. 

Luis Valdez, an advocate for the advancement of the hispanic race, utilizes his ability to write to present the issues on race in a non-conventional fashion.  In his play, Los Vendidos he presents a variety of characters portraying different Mexican stereotypes creating a satire aimed at challenging the rampant assumptions about hispanics .  Martin Luther King was straight-forward in addressing major racial indecencies and became a prominent catalyst in the achievements that took place for the oppressed.  If we continue to seek comfort in the changes that have already taken place how can we expect to move forward?  Unless a catastrophic event forces us to take the plunge we have to keep pushing forward in our attempts to improve our quality of life.  

The never ending obstacles that are preventing us from overcoming the inadequacies of society are continuously represented in ways that are often too subtle to notice.  The human subconscious plays a major role in our inability to see the problems.  Realtors will often take their black clients to predominantly black neighborhoods, and will steer caucasian families away from neighborhoods that are culturally diverse .  College students approach peers that share their ethnic background and have difficulty presenting themselves to groups they know nothing about.  In a world that is only getting busier people don’t want to take the time to get to know others they do not understand, so we continue to use previous experiences and attributing them to an entire group and not the singular individual we had the experience with.  Our children will adopt our views and grow up with opinions we made accessible throughout their growth.  These opinions are supported by what we watch on T.V., what we hear and what we obliviously absorb.  

Individuals within groups that are viewed with unfavorable stereotypes would benefit from coming forward in a way that contradicts the previous assumptions.  We need to make the effort to understand and help those that have been unable to understand us.  I am willing to take a step for the improvement of our society and that being said:  

My name is Natali.  I am Mexican, but it does not define me, I will define myself if given the opportunity and listen if you want to do the same.

Bravenewgirl Bravenewgirl 22-25, F 1 Response Mar 21, 2011

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I totally agree with you