I had two interesting conversations this week. Not that I don’t have them often but these two stood out. One of them made me sad. I’ll let you guess which one.
I have a distant relative who lives outside of the states who posted a video on FB where the host brought in a government official from Puerto Rico to discuss the island’s statehood. I’ve watched the host before and have generally enjoyed his business commentaries but when his guest came on he began the interview with an onslaught of assumptions as to why some may want the island to become our 51st state.
“You just want the money,” the host began. “No,” the guest responded. “It’s not about that.” The host then continued his barrage of assumptions in declaring that all that this was about was the money. This interview made me sad because I had come to like the host of this show as eluded to earlier. So to hear him launch his attack without granting the guest the courtesy of explaining his position (although he didn’t explain it very well) was upsetting. What was even more upsetting was the argument that my relative made which was to say that all Americans hate Puertoricans which I vehemently disagree with.
Another conversation occurred with my sweet wife at the voting booth. We’ve always believed in practicing our constitutional duty to cast our vote so we went as a family. My wife and I approached the table to show our photo IDs (our driver’s licenses) when the lady behind the table asked me for my voter registration card in addition to my driver’s license. Currently, the state of Tennessee only requires a valid government-issued photo ID which I presented when we both presented. She did not ask my wife. To be quite honest, I didn’t even notice. I happen to believe in the integrity of the voting process so I would have been fine with showing it. My wife wasn’t happy and understandably so. She felt as if I was paying for the corruption of another and there’s truth in that. On the other hand, we can’t really assume to know what was in that person’s heart. For all we knew she was supposed to ask me and the other lady was supposed to ask my wife and didn’t. In any case, my sweet wife said a few things about how much I love this country and that there was no reason to suspect that I was not who I said I was.
Here’s what I’m getting at.
We cannot stop people from pigeonholing us no matter what we say or do to prevent it. It’s simply part of fallen and imperfect man to put people into categories. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been snarled at for refusing to speak Spanish at a McDonald’s. It’s not that I’m ashamed of it (because I’m not). It’s because the lady was clearly engaging in what is known as “reverse racism” and it showed in her bitter treatment of a customer.
I truly think that if we can focus all of our energy into not letting others define who we are as individuals a whole lot of this race baiting and divisiveness can end. I say this knowing full well that I would probably still get angry if someone made a stereotype or ignorant comment about me as it pertains to my ethnicity.
We must define ourselves. You must define who you are and not let others do it for you or incite you to hate another because of something said. The moment that we allow others to define us, anger comes in and steals from us our goals and dreams without us even realizing it. Don’t be jealous if someone else has accomplished something that you wish you could or accuse someone of stealing it from you. If someone does then turn away and find another way of accomplishing your goal but determine in your mind and heart that no one can stop you from accomplishing something that is good. Determine in your mind to believe that you are not who they imply you to be and seek the truth about yourself and pursue things that are good and true. Treat their assumptions like gossip meant to divide us from each other, from our dreams and from self-confidence.
I still get people who act surprised when I don’t speak a certain way. I don’t care. It’s not up to them to define what I should sound like.
Decide in your heart who you are and don’t let anyone define you. In time, you’ll find that assumptions, stereotypes and pigeonholing will bounce off of your bullet-proof chest and fall at your feet. I mention race wars in the title but this really applies to everything on a social level. With all humility know who you are. If you’re not sure, seek truth.
That’s when you’ll find freedom.
Leonardo Ramirez is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Visit leonardoverse.com for info! Jupiter Chronicles is available in paperback now.
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