To be honest…with Jazmyne Ross

To be honest, I’m tired of minorities being mistaken for other ethnicities or for other people of the same race every day. This is prevalent in places with minimum to no diversity, such as William Jewell College. In a minority person’s life, they will likely also find themselves being called by another’s name if they are of the same race if there are few people of that race in the area. However, one can also be assumed to be an ethnicity that they are not, but appear to be. A lot of biracial children of Caucasian and African descent are called Hispanic or Latino. Admittedly, some say people of Hispanic descent share similar features to biracial children. Despite this, it is important to be cautious, unassuming and conscientious.

Personally, I am mistaken for other African-American women constantly. This happened in my last high school where I was often referred to as Deborah, a person many people said I spoke and acted like. This same scenario is existing for me on the campus of William Jewell College. It is the action of lumping all minorities of a certain race together, as if individually we are not important enough to be recognized as having unique identities. It is ignoring the fact that we are more than just the color of our skins, our eyes or our distinct voices. Those are merely parts of the cover of an unopened book. People often attempt to rely on the saying that “We all look the same!” There is a reason for that.

Minorities are often said to look the same because minorities are seen a lot less often. It is less common to see a minority for obvious reasons. It’s understandable to not be accustomed to differences among people of a different race. Also, if someone is in a group, they are more likely to see the differences amongst individuals within the group versus someone outside of the group. There is a logical reason as to why minorities are often called the same name or are referred to incorrectly.

Certain minorities may look like another race. However, this does not mean it is advised to assume someone’s race. We must remember to ask someone if we are to refer to them as a specific race. Let me be clear: this does not give someone license to ask direct and tactless questions such as “What are you?” which can offend the person in question. This brings me to my last point: being conscientious, asking politely and paying attention can exceed your expectations. It is important to not rely on brazen exclamations such as, “All people of this race look the same!” when one calls a minority another minority’s name. Mistakes can be forgiven. But, trying a little to remember each person’s name shows respect and an eagerness to learn about all the different things that make that individual special.  Mistakes of this kind, when they happen repeatedly, can show a side of society that needs improvement. Even if one feels confident assuming the race of a person, it is still essential to ask first. We are a melting pot and someone may surprise you with their response. Remember to be conscientious, ask before assuming and pay attention to the details because it can make all the difference.

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