Brown Skinned

It took me a long while to figure out why I never fit in, and while it's not the entire answer, I finally recognize that my race has a lot to do with it. It seems to be human nature to exclude other people by the basis of how they look. I know people can try to overcome this visceral aversion, but it's a conscious choice to avoid being racist, and the default position always seems to be to discriminate by appearance. Now I'm not trying to be sympathetic to what Seung-Hui Cho did last Monday, but I can sort of see where he's coming from. A "furriner" in a predominantly black and white state, he was apparently the victim of outright racism and incessant teasing about his otherness. Even worse, there are stupid idiots out there trying to tie him to Islamic Jihad just because he used the pseudonym "Ismail Ax", never mind that the name Ismail/Ishamael is well known in Biblical and other literary circles, and that it has a Jewish and Christian basis as well. I suppose that the name Ishmael is fitting, though. Ishmael, after all, was cast out from his people for being a "bastard", the offspring of a slave girl who most likely didn't get a say as to whether she actually wanted to bear this child. Ishmael is the epitome of the outsider, the one excluded, for something he had no control over. I realize that children and adolescents don't know any better. This is the time when identity is the most fragile, and when people say and do the cruelest of things. Growing up, I found my peers somewhat frightening, considering the lengths they would go to to destroy other people's egos and sense of well-being, and picking up on the barest of insecurities, like your weight, your ethnic background, the books you read, the TV shows you watched, the clothes you wore, the car your parents drove. All this superficial crap that has nothing to do with what sort of person you are. This feeling of being afraid of teenagers persists to this day, and I feel that anyone I have to presume that anyone between the age of 12 and 21 is evil until proven otherwise. Seung-Hui Cho may have been stark-raving crazy and full of incoherent rage, and I feel sorry for anyone who was wounded or killed or who lost a loved one in his homicidal rampage, but his sense of alienation did not arise from pure nothingness. As insane as he was, racist taunts and bullying certainly didn't make his life any better, and it's really not that hard to see how someone could snap even if they were sane to being with. As the 15th anniversary of the L.A. riots soon approaches, I once again remember a silly but extremely applicable and poignant mantra: Can't we all just get along?
victorious victorious
26-30, M
1 Response Apr 22, 2007

"I know people can try to overcome this visceral aversion, but it's a conscious choice to avoid being racist, and the default position always seems to be to discriminate by appearance." Never thought of it this way, but it's true! <br />
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Part of me wishes that we could all just get along, but I highly doubt that will ever happen. What could the best way to go about this? Stop mentioning races in conversation? While I understand where you're coming from, the title of your story is "Brown Skinned" ...<br />
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I do agree that many people are close to losing it. It seems to be human nature to put everything into categories. Once things are identified and categorized, they make more sense. God forbid we all be different and have different personalities. Fear of the unexpected. Each person, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, what-have-you, is different and should be seen as such. Unfortunately the world doesn't work this way.