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CELEBRATING CREATIVE EXPRESSION AT BAYLOR SINCE 1966

Periaktoi Writing Post

Volume 53
Issue 2

Single Visual Art Post

  • Essay
Tolerating the Intolerant
Mani Ross

 

Tolerating the Intolerant
 

I'm an African American female. The melanin in my skin does not lie; my race is unquestionable. I have never considered my skin color as a sin or something unusual. I see it more as a blessing. Unfortunately, many people decide to put people of color in a box; a box that is so hard to get out of no matter how hard I try. But my skin color does not and should not define who I am. My appearance may fit the stereotypes, but my actions on a daily basis do not. Why should I limit myself because someone else confines me based on my race? Regardless of hobbies, religious beliefs, sexuality, gender, or racial background, everyone should be accepted for who they are. That's why I believe in the tolerance of race.

Growing up, I've encountered all kinds of intolerance, whether it was towards me or someone close to me. Just last year, my friends and I experienced discrimination while having a night out for my birthday. The judgment was based solely on the color of our skin and not our actual activity. An officer directed us to move from the courtyard across the street because we were "causing trouble" and "disrupting the public." Of course, we followed directions, but there was one factor that didn't make sense: my friends and I were not disturbing anyone. We were just regular teenagers waiting on our parents to pick us up after a night of fun. Suddenly, another group of teenagers about our age came out of the movie theater and stood in the exact same spot as me and my friends. I watched, getting more irritated each second the officer didn't approach the other group. They were doing the exact same thing as we were, but there was a difference in our friend groups: They were white, and we were black. The concept hit me like a ton of bricks, and I will never forget that moment. The problem was not with our actions, but with our skin color.

Tolerance is usually something I expect from others, but it's not always shown in everyday life. Skin color intolerance does not only affect other races but also within races. Most of the time while growing up, when watching the television, flipping through a magazine, or even looking at billboards, women of color were not portrayed as the epitome of beauty. A white woman was always seen as smarter, prettier, and overall better; a white woman was the embodiment of beauty, and a black woman was not. Growing up, that perception has made me feel insecure about the color of my skin and whether I was really worthy of the same opportunities as a white person. The controversial idea of white privilege has also caused problems within my own race, the main one being colorism. Colorism is "the prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group." Due to the consciousness of the whiter you are, the better you are, people of color with less melanin discriminate against those with a darker tone. I think that this racial conviction is a huge problem within my race, and we should come together and not differentiate within our own ethnic culture.

As a great Baylor student once said, "I may fit the description, but I do not fit the stereotype." I don't have to put myself in a box because others believe that I should stay in it; I step outside of the box. Now, whenever I look into the mirror, I see my skin color as one of the many definitions of beauty. I should not feel any less of a person just because someone else doesn't like the way I look; I am unapologetically black. The earth is filled with a variety of people with different hobbies, religious beliefs, sexualities, genders, and racial backgrounds. The world is more beautiful with diversity, and that's exactly why I believe in the tolerance of race.