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Nelson's Take

Nelson
Bayard Rustin for the Humanities
10th Grade
Age 15

Being different can be great and also a terrible thing. Either way I believe that being different racially is great since you contribute to the mosaic of life making it all the more unique. Everyone has something to contribute to the world, such as his or her culture, personality, and lifestyle. We all have something special that is special and unique. Instead of celebrating these differences, we often stereotype groups. This happens on the streets, in our homes and in our schools.

Being a Chinese male, I face many stereotypes and I've been branded as a nerd. One example was when I entered high school as a freshman, when I walked into class. Most of the people were thinking "Great! Another nerd!" (probably every time I answered a question), but hopefully, they got to know me and they found out that I was smart and I also did what they did. They thought that I, as a Chinese person, just studied, but we (Chinese teenagers) love to hang out, go to the movies, etc.. When my old friends were saying negative comments about me hanging out with my African-Americans friends, I was deeply saddened. It's awful to learn that the people you know and trust are biased against others.

Being different (Chinese) is pretty weird and I think my teachers have put some extra pressure on me. They expect me to have very high grades and in a few cases, they raised the standards for me. Of course most of the time, I don't meet their standards and then, how am I supposed to feel? Am I supposed to work harder because that's what they want? Should I feel like a failure because I didn't meet their expectations? What can I do?

I am just like any other normal teenager who would love to be chilling with my friends on the corner rather than do a 5-page report on some dead guy. Either way, I think that being different is cool and all, but when I'm faced with stereotypes, I want to let people know that I'm a normal teen. I just want to "fit in" with the majority.