Racism is real, and it happens everywhere

By Imani Reed, Staff Writer

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I was recently asked, “what is racism?” and while I definitely know what it means, Google defines racism as prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

Being an African American teenage girl, I see racism everyday and in all forms. It’s become an obstacle that many people face daily in our country and one that often times hinders one from reaching their full potential whether in their school, workplace or community.

This is a sensitive and very controversial topic, and when you really take a deeper look, you realize that it is in fact happening everywhere and at a rapid rate. On the surface, this seems like an ‘old’ issue and something that should be left behind in history books; however, racial discrimination is alive and thriving and does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon.

The term has become so streamlined as a white versus black thing, but really it is happening to Mexicans, Jews, Muslims and many others races and cultures as well.

Sometimes the words and actions of people in this world make my stomach turn upside down. The judgement and negative comments and overall divide among people gives me the feeling of my stomach being in giant knots. I often times feel embarrassed and hurt for my own race and other races. Sometimes even to the point of being ashamed of who I am.

As a sophomore now, I’ve experienced bullying for 12 years, usually involving my race, my hair, my appearance or even the way I dress. I hate that there are people who think it is okay to discriminate, showing zero consideration to others.

I certainly have my opinions on Trump, and you are entitled to yours, but regardless of your thoughts on the current administration, there is no denying the national divide, hate and separation in our country right now. Where does it stem from? Well, that is a conversation for a later day, but I think we can all agree that it exists.

I am not stirring the pot and I am definitely not trying to gain anyone’s sympathy; however, I do think that we need to get it together not only as a country, but even as a community and as a high school. We need to demand better of ourselves. Freedom of speech and all of that is great, and please think what you want and stand by it strongly. But, does that mean you get a free pass to hate and discriminate? I think not.

If someone wants to practice a certain religion, go for it. That does not change the way that I live. If someone’s skin color is different than mine, that has absolutely no impact on my daily life. If someone talks differently than me or comes from a different country, great. I can continue living my life, without judging and or separating myself from them.
Seems easy, right?

I truly believe that racism can be prevented. Educate yourself, branch out and get to know someone who is different from you. The problem is that too many people go their whole lives without experiencing different races or cultures. Too many people live ignorantly. Maybe they prefer it that way? I don’t know.

I have seen racism happen here at Fairmont (and experienced it personally), but I also know that it is not tolerated. While it is impossible for teachers and administrators to hear every slur and see every incident, we the students can help bridge that gap. Stand up, speak out and be better.

Rather than taking my anger out on others, I am using it to promote change.

Principal Alexander understands that diversity in a school system can help create a better learning environment all around.

“I say all the time that one of the great things about Fairmont is that we have students from all different walks of life. I believe that it gives students the opportunity to engage with somebody who isn’t like them. As our students become adults or move on to college or work, they have to be able to work with somebody that they don’t agree with,” Alexander said.

My grandma always told me that nobody is better than you. Nobody is better than anyone else. So, treat people how you want to be treated.

They are such simple words, but they are words that I try to live by.

So, let’s stop the judgment and use this giant melting pot of a school as a tool to grow and become better human beings. Just be kind, it is not that hard.