America is the wealthiest and most prosperous nation on the entire planet. It is a miracle for one to be born in the United States instead of growing up in one of the hundreds of third-world countries. Being a white American is considered by most as the pinnacle of life. For centuries white Americans have had numerous privileges and treatments not offered to those of different race or skin color. Growing up included in the mass of millions of white Americans has been a blessing and a curse. Deep in the south, those of white skin have always been considered the best and been treated better than everyone else.
Knowing nothing different, southerners were shaped into thinking that anyone not of the same ethnicity was lower than they were and carried less worth. Though I try not to judge those less fortunate than myself, when I see people with a different skin color, my immediate reaction is a stereotypical judgment made because of generations of closed-minded thinking. Everyday I struggle with accepting people of different color and rising above the prejudices made so long ago. The problem of considering myself better than another is not, however, confined only to other races.
Inadvertently, I find myself looking down on those with a smaller house, dirtier shoes, or lower grades, no matter the color of their skin. I wish that I could blame my thoughts on my own narcissistic tendencies; but I believe that, starting centuries ago, whites have held themselves on a pedestal. And through generations, this thought process has been passed down, whether consciously or subconsciously, to the society today. Not only do Americans think so highly of themselves, but so does the rest of the world.
On my first mission trip to Latvia, it was amazing to see the reaction of the Russian children there at camp. They adored us merely because we were white Americans. Jumping at every chance to learn an English word or mimic our actions, the children never tired of our presence. Simply because I am a white American gives me the benefit in society to succeed easier than one of a different ethnic background. Despite all the benefits and opportunities white Americans have today in society, I have recently experienced the desire to be from a poor ethnic family.
In the field of scholarships, you’re out of luck if you are a middle-class white kid. There are many scholarships requiring nothing more than an ethnic background. When the short-lived jealousy subsided, I realized that it seemed only fair to have scholarships specifically for those in the minority. Though achieving success in American society is typically harder for those of a minority race, over the recent years, people of ethnic backgrounds have had more success than in the past. For example, in the upcoming election, Barack Obama is the closest a black man has been to presidency.
Over the years however, the majority/minority ratio seems to be reversing, especially in the south. Because of its border with Mexico, in the recent years Texas has been flooded with an enormous amount of immigrants. In most public schools white children are becoming the minority. I have noticed many more Mexicans in my high school years than in younger grade school years. Obvious measures are being taken to accommodate the growing minority. Such as special classes that teach English, translators in the classrooms, and certain parties or privileges only being offered to those of Mexican ethnicity.
Of course people from the same ethnicity tend to group together, and this shows how deeply the color of ones skin truly goes. Without going to a different country, I have witnessed racial problems in my own town. When I was a freshman in high school, an older boy wanted to date me. However, my father would not allow it. I had dated before, so I didn’t understand his adamancy on the subject. His explanation was that the young man was black, and dating a black boy could ruin my reputation in a small southern town.
I find it so ridiculous that color can have such an impact on people’s lives. Many southerners, black and white, struggle with the past issue of slavery. No one in my generation, and most likely the generation before me, has ever been enslaved or owned a slave. Just because someone’s great-grandfather owned someone else’s great-grandfather is no reason for hatred. In a perfect world, people should be allowed to make their own reputation instead of being judged by their ancestors’ reputations.
Blame it on the rest of the world for placing white Americans on a pedestal or call them out on their self-righteous thoughts; it is obvious that southerner whites tend to consider themselves above everyone else, no matter what race. This has been proven several times in history, as evidenced by past wars. Observing attitudes today also confirms my stance. People in the south are better than northerners because people up north talk funny and spend too much money. People in the south are better than those in Mexico because people in Mexico smell bad and only eat tortillas.
People in the south are better than Iraqis because people from Iraq blow up buildings. It seems to me that the foundations of many prejudices are built on faulty generalizations. Because of Americans’ inability to look beyond the color of a person’s flesh pigment, problems between differing races will continue until the end of time. Cursed by ancient ways of thinking, people will live their lives as the fathers before them and make no progress. Although I know there are others who share my ideals, it often feels as if I am the only white southern American willing to embrace those of different ethnicities.