By Roby Tan
There’s no denying it. Skin color is one of the first things that people notice when seeing someone for the first time. People make assumptions all the time, like assuming someone’s unapproachable just because they look serious. However, assuming someone’s life story based on the color of their skin is just plain ignorant.
It’s about time people understand that not everyone can speak the language of their ancestors. If you have a friend who is Latinx and you want to introduce them to another Latinx, don’t be surprised when they both don’t speak Spanish, especially when one or both of them did not grow up in a Spanish-speaking environment. Don’t assume that everyone knows everyone just because they fall under the same racial category. It may seem like those who look the same, act the same, but don’t be fooled. Looks do not directly link with most people’s limited perception of who they are.
For example, not all Asians look the same. There isn’t a fair amount of representation among Asians because most are only familiar with common Asian features: fair skin and small eyes. Darker-skinned Asians are pushed out of the Asian community because they don’t look like the majority. Filipinos, South Asians and mixed-Asians do not deserve to be marginalized for “being too tan” and not having the “right” skin tone. Asians come in all shades, some darker than others. That doesn’t make them any less Asian simply because they don’t fit into the box society created of what they should look like. They should not have to feel insecure for not having “perfect glass skin.” Their validity should be widespread amongst their culture, especially in a diverse country like the United States.
Many may assume mixed race people are one of the fortunate few for identifying as two or more races, yet people question why they don’t “look or act (insert race here) enough.” They may look more similar to one specific race, but that doesn’t mean they should neglect their other ethnicities and cultures, and neither should society. It affects mixed race people’s perception of themselves when they don’t fit into one race, leaving them to feel race-less. Other people should understand that it is possible to embody multiple cultures and unnecessary to force mixed-race people to pick one side of themselves. At the end of the day, it is their choice however they want to express their identity. Treat them how you want to be treated, not forced to be stuck in a box they don’t choose to identify as.
Race is not simply the issue here, it is prejudice in general. It is amazing yet so disappointing how much people think skin color says about an individual. Some are unable to grasp the concept of individuality and how stereotypes shouldn’t define people. People confuse assuming someone’s background for acknowledging it. We dream of a perfect utopian society yet refuse to acknowledge what makes everyone different and unique. So next time, when in doubt, please ask; don’t assume. Curiosity cures ignorance. Who knows, you might actually be surprised about what you find out.