Impact of racism
Impact of racism
Essay Prompt – The Impact of Racism
This is a student essay that I received in response to the next essay prompt you will be doing. This is one that made me sit at my desk and cry. The first part was
written by my student. The second part was written by a fraternity brother of his and my student attached it to his own essay. I have the permission of both to use
their work, although the writer of the second essay wants to remain anonymous. Both pieces are copyrighted by James Richard Hatch (2016), All Rights Reserved and
used with permission. NOTE, I HAVE VERY LIGHTLY EDITED THE SECOND ESSAY. IF YOU CATCH THE EDIT(S) LET ME KNOW IF YOU SEE THE IRONY.
(1) Write a short essay (500+ words) with your thoughts and personal experiences with racism, whether it is receiving it, doing it, or witnessing it. This essay is
your opportunity to express yourself without a whole lot of constraints by me.
(2) Your essay must be logical and thoughtful.
(3) Make sure you follow the two Essay Prompt Rubrics found elsewhere in this Class Packet.
(4) The essay must be contained in the body of an e-mail to me.
(5) The subject line of the e-mail must contain:
IMPACT and your student number for this class and the word count
Example: IMPACT – T133 – 501
I would like to start off by saying that I’m not sure if this topic fits the criteria but it is something that has affected me and changed my outlook on life. This
topic is the use of racist and other politically incorrect language. This type of language, although protected by our first amendment rights, will hopefully be
eliminated from our culture in the future and eventually, will become taboo. Before stating why this topic fits the three signs that future generations will condemn
us for, I want to tell you the story about how this issue has changed my perspective. In high school I had an incredibly diverse group of friends. Black, white,
Asian, Middle Eastern, Hindu, Christian, Islamic: if there is a race or religion of the world there was a fairly high chance that they were apart of my friend circle.
What was so interesting about this friend group, however, is that even though we had a good chunk of the world’s races and religions, we were still incredibly
intolerant. It was not how we thought that was politically incorrect, but what we said. I would call my black friends “nigger,” my Arab friends “terrorist,” my Asian
friends “gook” or “chink,” and I would make fun of my Hindu friend for worshipping cows. In return, my friends would call me “paleface,” “Nazi,” or would make fun of
my perfect white suburban life which I always thought was hilarious. The interesting part about this dynamic is that none of us took offense to anything that each
other said. Skipping forward a few years to my first semester of college I had to tone down my use of racial slurs a lot; and that is an understatement. As I
progressed through my collegiate career and met new friends of different races and religions and took more classes on cultural diversity, I noticed that I started to
change. The intolerant words that once freely flew from my mouth only came out on rare occasions, if at all. Even though I have never considered myself racist, I
never knew how such words could affect other people until I was given the opportunity to put myself into someone else’s shoes and see firsthand how something as simple
as a word could destroy someone’s self-esteem. A few weeks ago I woke up on a Saturday morning and checked my phone to see that an African American member of my
fraternity had made a post on our Facebook page. The post stated “Hey something that has been bugging the hell out of me: As you all know, I don’t take lightly to
the word nigga/nigger. There have been many instances where brothers have come up to me asking for an explanation or expressing disapproval of my feelings towards the
subject. It has upset me so much that I woke up thinking about it this morning. So, to maybe lay it all on the table I wrote a post this morning to relate how I
feel. It was (way) too long. I ended up writing a damn paper for you all. You don’t have to read it but if you are curious as to how I feel, I implore you to do
so.” I downloaded the link and started reading and when I had gotten about halfway through it I began to cry. I didn’t realize how unfortunately fortunate I had been
growing up as a white male in America. For the first time in my life I understood what it was like to be a minority and I was ashamed that it took me so long to
understand how so many people feel. I have attached what he wrote in a document below and, like my friend did to my fraternity, I implore you to read it too.
Relating all of this back to the three signs that this is an issue that future generations will condemn us for, using racist and politically incorrect language has
been around for centuries. Arguments that people will use to defend the intolerant words that they say may include: “it’s my right,” “I grew up saying these words,”
or “It’s just a word and it can’t hurt anyone.” The people who will use these arguments have never faced these issues themselves or have never loved someone who has.
Although I staunchly support our freedom of speech, I can’t help but feel disgusted by people who throw these words around and don’t believe that they will ever affect
anyone. I would like to say is that if you believe what I do then it is not enough to just stop saying it. The next time a friend, family member, or anyone for that
matter says anything that someone would consider offensive speak up about it. If you do not condemn it you condone it.
*** For all those who wonder why I hate hearing the word nigga***
There have been plenty of instances where I have voiced my opinion on why I dislike the use of the word nigga; this post is simply to explain myself and to hopefully
clear some air. You really don’t have to read it (its gonna be long). It’s only for those who wonder why I have such strong emotions and why I feel the way that I do.
have you ever:
had to avoid certain places for being black?
been pulled over for being black?
had a knife pulled on you for the color of your skin?
been spit on by others because of the way you look?
had teachers openly discriminate against you during class?
been accused of a serious crime for the color of your skin?
been kicked out of a church for being black?
had to explain to your baby sister her beauty after coming home crying that her friends excluded her from games at school (because of her complexion)?
Boo hoo for me right? No, not at all. None of those questions are meant to gain your pity or sympathy– everybody goes through their own shit. But I need you to know
this: there are things that, because of my heritage/the way I look/the color of my skin, you will never go through in your life, PERIOD. It is a matter of fact, not
opinion. These are sufferings that only I and people like me can relate to, so when I hear you say the word nigga, the only thing I hear is your ignorance. Which leads
me to my next point.
2. Zack, why can’t I say it? Why can only black people say it? That’s stupid, it’s just a word. How are you gonna stop/prevent me from saying a word anyways. Freedom
Bruh. YOU ARE TOTALLY RIGHT. I can’t stop you from using it. But I need you to know that, even as my brother, I immediately think less of you when that word comes out
of your mouth. This is because when you say the word nigga, you are using a word without the knowledge/understanding of the weight that it carries. Do me a favor and
try to think of one word that elicits as strong a response as nigga coming from a white man to a black man. **** (and maybe bitch) is the closest you will get, and
that doesn’t even come close. When you use the word nigga, you are saying “fuck you Zack and fuck your people” – that’s almost exactly what I hear no joke.
When I was younger, I believed the same thing. Why the hell should we police a word? Who gives a fuck, the meaning of the word has changed. What I have realized as I
have grown older, however: the meaning has changed between me and my black counterpart, no one else. Being called a nigger is nothing light, guys. It’s the lowest of
the low. It expresses one’s belief that I am still considered a slave, inferior in worthiness and capability. It tells me that they could give a fuck about my life or
well-being. When I hear nigga out of your mouth, I hear nigger. I hear you telling me I am beneath and second-grade to you. I hear you insulting me and my sisters and
my brother and my friends, and I refuse to let that happen. The meaning of nigger does not change when you speak it. You have no grasp of the pain that it carries, you
have no understanding of the tears or the reactions or the turmoil it has caused. YOU NEVER WILL. And this is the reason you cannot use it. But because of freedom of
speech and my (and others) inability stop you, this is the reason you should not use it.
3. I come from a relatively affluent family and a strong household. I was raised by caring and loving parents. I realize I am intellectually blessed and at a great
school. I am privileged and, although I have received my fair share of discrimination, it is nothing compared to the experiences of a lot of others. I don’t talk about
my identity as a black man because it rarely comes up. Trust me though, it’s there. It is who I am. I am black. My friends and loved ones are black. My people are
black. The only thing I want to accomplish with this paper is to make you understand that you don’t understand. That is it. If you still can’t get that, please out of
the sake of just being my brother, respect who I am and who I love by refraining from the use of that word around me. If you think it makes you look cool you are
mistaken; it is an open display of your ignorance and lack of empathy. It makes you look and sound stupid. Public image-wise, you look like an ignorant douche white
frat boy who knows nothing (and you aren’t). I know that this is not the composition of my fraternity.
4. My friends let me use it all the time and they are black.
Does their approval change the pigment of your skin?
Are they the ambassadors of Black People Worldwide?
Does their approval grant you some type of black perspective?
I am willing to bet your friends have a weak appreciation for black culture.
That is just more discrimination. If everyone used the word, there would be less discrimination.
So, you’re telling me that you’re doing me a favor by calling me nigga?
You’re helping me and my people out by using this word?
Okay, great thankyou! What else are you doing to help the black community?
What else are you doing to help end discrimination?
Whatever, I’ll just say it when you’re not around.
Cool story bro.
I hope someone else catches you slippin when I’m not there, and I hope they aren’t as nice.
I think less of you.
Where I’m from, it’s not that big of a deal.
Where the hell are you from?
How many black people were in your community?
Okay great, I’ll put that on my list of places to avoid.
5. A few caveats:
Idgaf if you say nigga when singing along to songs or any of that bullshit. By that train of thought, I would anger at the thought of you reading this paper aloud
(which is ludicrous).
If you want to have a more in-depth conversation, I would love to speak with you. Come talk to me!
I love you all and there is no way in hell I would spend this much time explaining to any other people about how I feel. Because I care for you all so much; because I
know who you are; and because you know who I am, I spent the time writing this paper. I love you all too much for you not to understand how I feel. I wouldn’t have
written this paper if I didn’t think it would make a difference (however big or small it may be).