By: Joyce Muhizi
The beauty of education is that it is endless. I have been fortunate enough to be given opportunities to further my education but as my schooling advances my awareness of stereotypes placed upon me does as well. My melanin infused skin, curly hair, curves and spunky attitude does not weigh out the option for me to be intelligent. For all eighteen years of my existence, I’ve been presented with the same absurd questions regarding the properness of my speech or the sound of my voice and needless to say, I’m tired of it. To identify properness with a certain race is not only prejudice but is undeniably ignorant. It creates an even thicker barrier between all of the races within our society. A barrier, activists and other accepting individuals have been working militantly to knock down. When someone suggests that I can’t be black due to my ability to form grammatically correct sentences or ability to recite all of the ‘Bye Bye Birdie’ script, I feel disrespected. Why is the adjective smart equated with the Asian and Caucasian races? Why are the terms “gangster” and “ghetto” associated with African Americans and Latinos?
All of these assumptions are flawed due to the presence of white criminals and individuals like that of my black grandfather who’ve obtained degrees for Ivy League schools. Believe it or not, It’s possible for a Black and White Americans to be equally intelligent because fortunately in today’s society we are presented with the gift of education. A gift I’ve cherished since I’ve understood the value and thus, I am able to present myself in a manner some have considered ‘proper’. Instead of commenting on someone’s intelligence by identifying them with a race outside their own, just simply compliment their wit. Instead of thickening the barriers between races help rid them by accepting that all races and genders have the potential to acquire knowledge.
Please also understand that a passion for schooling and the improvement of self, isn’t “selling out your race” or culture. I love my blackness and wouldn’t rid myself of such a beautiful culture ever. I love my chicane side also and wouldn’t ever want to hide that piece of me either. We should refocus our efforts to achieve tolerance of other people and aid in the advancements of minorities. We can begin doing this by embracing the achievements of others. Erase the “sell out stigma.” Make the effort to lift up one another instead of trying to hinder the progression of individuals that don’t fall under our racial umbrella. It’s important to understand that the acquisition of knowledge is not a jab or a way of saying the next person is less than. Acknowledging another person’s greatness and attributes won’t rid you of your own. I want to make it clear that I’m not asking for people to “not see color” but instead learn how to be tolerant and more accepting of others different than what society has deemed normal. Helen Keller said it best,
“The highest result of education is tolerance.”