Something that I don’t think I’ll ever understand is why people are judged or made fun of for being different. I’m not talking about being different because they have weird quirks or march to the beat of their own drum. I’m talking about the big differences…. Differences in race, ethnicity, religion, beliefs, etc. Of course everyone judges. It’s human nature. We have to make judgments in order to make decisions in life. The judgment that I am referring to is the negative judgment of stereotyping people before you even get to know them personally. Our society is so quick to judge and steer away from people who are not like ourselves. Why do we fear the differences of others? Why not embrace them instead? Imagine if we were all the same. Imagine if we were all the same race, the same religion, from the same culture, or believed the same things. How BORING would that be? People have become so fearful of being different from the “normal” stereotype. Can you blame them?
Today in class, we had to complete an inventory sheet on cross-cultural sensitivity. There were 30 statements on this survey, and we had to rate ourselves on a scale of 1-7, with 1 being strongly disagree and 7 being strongly agree. Here’s a few examples of the statements:
- I avoid people who are different than me.
- Culturally mixed marriages are wrong.
- The very existence of humanity depends on our knowledge of other people.
- I think about living within another culture in the future.
- The way other people express themselves is very interesting to me.
We followed up with a class discussion about this inventory and how we are going to be dealing with different cultures, races, beliefs, etc. in our classrooms one day when we’re teaching. I guess for me, I’m not closed minded when it comes to people’s differences. You live the life that you want to live. Regardless of what I believe, as long as you are not personally, negatively affecting me, you do you.
I just hate that our society immediately judges or stereotypes people because they’re African-American or Muslim or an Atheist or covered head to toe in tattoos or gay or different from “normal”!!! A person could be the kindest, friendliest, most respectful person you’ve ever met, but society is still going to immediately stereotype them when they find out that this person is different because we have a preconceived notion about their difference.
“Not everyone thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, nor acts the way you would act. Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people.”
I personally enjoy the differences in people. In the second grade class that I observe in, the teacher is African American and the majority of the students are African-American. There are a few Hispanic students and one who is Micronesian. There are only two white students. The majority of these students come from single parent, low socioeconomic status households. The majority of them do not have the same skin color as me. They/their families may not believe the same things that I do or practice the same religion as I do or they may not even be religious at all. They’re different from me. I am white. I come from a home where my parents are happily married. I have been blessed with a hard working dad, who provides for his family, and parents who want the best for their daughters. But I love every single one of those beautiful second graders just the same, no matter who they are or where they come from. It is not my place to stereotype or judge them. It’s my job to love them. I love their differences. I love that they’re different from me.
We don’t have to agree on anything to be kind to one another. Don’t stereotype. Be open-minded. Get to know others before you form an opinion of them.
Now get out there and love the people (and their differences!!!) who make life so great!!!