No Tolerance for Discrimination

Adolescence has long been branded a time of self-discovery, of unforgettable memories, of nostalgia. Yet, in my experience, this time is also memorable for the rampant discrimination, discrimination that is deemed excusable for its status as a harbinger of the difficulties present in later adult life, or “real” life. Such an attitude, that has been continually reiterated to me by teachers at my school, seems incredibly nearsighted — why not nip discrimination in the bud? Why not do whatever we can now to prevent this problem from becoming commonplace in adult life? We cannot simply accept that it is an issue, we must do whatever we can to eliminate it. Of course, I cannot ignore the progressive measures that many schools have taken to eliminate such discrimination and intolerance. Yet I hope my experiences in my high school illustrate that these problems go much, much deeper than what seems.

In my high school, while outright racism is somewhat present, I have more often witnessed a sort of internal racism among my friends — as in people feel themselves as if another race is superior and let this belief limit their outlook. They grow to lack self-worth, an issue that can rapidly spiral into depression. A more common name for this could be insecurity or a lack of confidence in oneself, a sad reality that plagues many teenagers today. This lack of confidence manifests itself particularly in students’ tying their worth to the clothes they wear and the cars they own. In my school, students are looked down upon namely for wearing fake UGGs or buying lookalike North Face jackets. I find this outlook so incredibly repulsive.

In such situations, not only do the victims suffer from a lack of confidence but so do the bullies. Such bullies have entrenched themselves so deeply in the flawed ideal of the power of branded apparel that they view the rest of the world through this horribly limited filter. Furthermore, this sort of muted bullying, that does not involve outright violence but nonetheless negatively affects the victim’s welfare, is cruel and can do horrible things to a person’s self- respect. To prevent bullying, discrimination, and insecurity, I feel that we must empower students personally and make them recognize their own value. I cannot stress the importance of having an open mind. With an open mind comes an open heart and this can greatly enrich people’s lives.