I have a really bad habit of biting at the skin around my fingernails. I don't even remember how this became something that I was just okay with. I don't remember when it became a habit. I try so hard to stop it, but I always unconsciously end up right where I began, deteriorating something that I should be keeping clean and beautiful. I bite them because it's an impulse but I tell myself it won't happen again the next time.

Our country is creating a really bad habit of making decisions against our national standard. We don't even remember if this is something that began or something that just never really ended. We try so hard to create equality and justice, but this country always ends up right where it began, deteriorating something that we portray to the world as diverse and welcoming. Mindsets are so difficult to change, so people just tell themselves it won't happen again the next time.

And then what happens? It does.

It happens again and again because not enough people know and not enough people care and not enough people realize that this isn't something that just influences some of us. An African American man was killed in a chokehold by a police officer, another African American man was shot to death by a police officer and neither police officers were indicted. This isn't a grey area situation; these are homicides that went unpunished. To preface, I don't have all the facts about these situations and I'm speaking from what I know, so please correct me if I'm wrong about anything. I speak from a perspective of someone who has been stereotyped against but never in a way that has truly broken me. I can't fully understand all of the pain in this situation, but I can understand the impact this has on the country.

We live in a country where women have to be careful to go out at night because they might be assaulted and instead of teaching the men to stop, we teach the women how to be more careful. We live in a country where people of color have to be careful of how they act in public because someone might see you and assume you're a terrorist or a criminal. So many of us have chosen to be in this country, where hardly anyone can completely feel safe from the country itself. Why does it take months and years for cases about rape at colleges to be talked about? Why should we be afraid of our own police force committing injustice? People immigrate to this country to get away from all of that, but we offer exactly the same things, plus child obesity. It's hard to see that the whole world continues to run even though things like this are happening. The media focuses on celebrity babies and naked Kardashians instead of things that actually matter because that's what people want to see.

If you don't go to Duke or a school where this is being discussed, maybe you don't know, and that's fine, but don't be ignorant of the problems in this country. The more you know, the more you'll care because this impacts you too. It took a while for me to come to this realization but I know that even if this doesn't affect me directly right now, it does affect my friends. I will be discriminated against in the future because mindsets are not easy to change. How do you get it into people's heads that humans are humans and the color of our skin or our sexual preference or whether we have a vagina or a penis does not make us more or less worthy than another? You can't, because adults are too full of themselves to ever consider that they might be wrong. All I could hope is that our generation will make some changes since we're more aware and diverse, but with the number of campus rapes and  racial slurs I've seen used on our campus, my hope is weakened.

This is a big deal. Have discussions if it's not something you would normally talk about, because that's the best option we have. If this is a country that's supposed to be run by the people, we're the best option we have.

Leave a Reply