How would you define your friend? One friend, just any friend.
It’s hard, is it not?
Defining someone is distinctly different from defining a word. While a word exists to indicate a certain idea whether it be tangible or abstract, we, on the other hand, exist to be ourselves, and thus, us human beings are not meant to be restricted and bounded by simple words or phrases. Although most people agree that defining people is hard, our actions and words seem to claim otherwise.
People easily define others by their race:
“Gosh, you’re such a white girl.”
“WHAT you have an iPhone? I thought you were Korean-Korean?”
“You’re German, no wonder you don’t have a sense of humor.”
People also define others by their character or their physical qualities:
“Did you just say you failed the test? What did you get, a B+?”
“No wonder you’re aggressive, you’re a debater that’s why”.
“Are you depressed? Why aren’t you smiling, that’s so not you.”
“Man up! Why can’t you go on rides?”
I am confident that you have heard at least one, if not all, of the quotes above being said.
Stop defining people, stop defining your friends: you probably don’t know how it feels like to hear a racist comment against your own culture, to have a friend who is unsupportive of your success, or to hear your friend trivializing your worries and concerns just because they simply don’t care enough to understand.
Although these things may seem insignificant, the words you say, the face you make hurt others. The words you say, the face you make make them feel like they have to act a certain way, because of the way you perceive them. The words you say, the face you make, make them feel like their hard work didn’t mean anything.
The words you say, the face you make, lock them up in the cage of definition you’ve given them.
Racism is one of the many prevalent cages. Due to the history of racism in which a certain race dominated another, acting as if they had possession over another, racism has been commonly conceived as the belief that racism is superior or inferior to another. However, racism is in fact, the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race.
The world we live in now is vastly different from the world five decades ago. We all know racism is wrong. As global citizens, we live in an era in which it is easy to offend someone with a racist comment. We live in an environment that is also easy to discern that stereotypes that have to do with race are not always true, and that no matter of its accuracy it is still offensive. However, when people observe something peculiar about an individual from a racial minority, they tend to instantly tie the observation to their race, generalizing a fact to a population to hundred thousands, if not a million people.
Hasn’t the environment around you taught you better than that? Open your eyes, and absorb the environment around you. Take advantage of it, and learn to be a better friend than someone who locks their friends up in a cage, because you are hurting your people: your friends, your family members, your classmates.
Just like racism is wrong because it constrains people, so are the words or actions that define a person. Be a friend who is encouraging. Instead of creating barriers and boundaries with your words, open up a route for them, motivating them to explore the areas outside of their comfort zone; because you hold the power to do so.