As a teenager growing up in the 1990's, I have realized the overwhelming importance of racial equality and cooperation in our society. I strongly believe that the key to the success of America's future is the breaking down of all racial barriers and working together as one, united nation to try to bring this country back to the land of true "equal" opportunity.
These past few years have been trying times for open-mindedness for Americans. Witnessing the vicious beating of Rodney King, the riots that followed the King verdict where Reginald Denny was brutally and senselessly beaten, had the whole country on edge. The single biggest court case in this country's history - that of O.J. Simpson - was blanketed with racial overtones. The verdict had the country almost divided over the decision. Now Louis Farrakhan is preaching controversial ideas and beliefs to millions of black men across the nation, creating tension among the races.
These incidents only impose more obstacles in American society's racial relations. But the best way to mend these wounds is to create an environment were all races and creeds can work and interact together every day, to better understand and relate to other cultures and their customs, and beliefs on a person-to-person basis.
I recently was asked the question: when was the last time you discussed racism with someone of another race? One of my best friends is an African-American Metco student from Dorchester, and another is of Mexican-American decent. We have been friends for so long that we openly discuss racial problems all the time. But I wondered if this question was asked of the entire country how many people could comfortably and openly discuss their views on racism with a person of different race? I'm sure there are a lot of people who don't have the same opportunity that I do.
Creating a multicultural environment, especially at the college level, where you are exposed to so many unique ideas and people, is an excellent start to try to introduce people to others in a time when you are alone for the first time, in a foreign environment, and everyone is looking to make friends.
If more people stop being ignorant and start using experience and the past as a teacher, they will see that all the fighting and intolerance doesn't get anyone anywhere. We will see that in adverse times when people pull together, positive things are almost always the result. So I am anxiously hoping to be a positive influence in achieving a multiculturally aware student body, and maybe if more campuses make this issue a top priority the country will benefit as a whole. -
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.