A Country of Content
Nikhita Gopisetty, Winner
In 2008, I was starting the second grade at a brand new school. Within the first week, our class was learning about the Blacks and Civil Rights movement, and a boy said something that I know will remain engraved in my mind forever. We were reading a section about the ill treatment towards slaves, and the blunt boy shouted, “It’s a good thing you aren’t living in that time, because otherwise you’d be a slave!”
Everyone’s heard of the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but does everyone live by it? The phrase tells us to not base our opinions on first impressions, not to be quick to judge. It tells us that what matters is the content inside, not what can be found on the outside.
That day in second grade initially made me feel embarrassed about my skin color. When the boy said that to me, I was humiliated. I spent time wishing I wasn’t dark and was rather white like my friends. But my mom made me realize that I was unhappy only because I didn’t know how to embrace my own heritage. Slowly, with the help of my family, I began to immerse myself in my culture, learning about the stories, music, and even foods of India. This awareness allowed me to, instead of feeling insecure, understand who I am.
If I were president, I would focus on the problem of discrimination. Even though our nation has gotten rid of the inhumanity that was slavery, discrimination against people with different native backgrounds still exists. Hatred against Muslims is just one example of discrimination today. After 9-11, many oblivious people loathed Muslims for no legitimate reason. I’ve seen friends of mine who wear hijabs bullied just because they wear one.
As president, I would implement an awareness program that would teach kids at a young age about different cultures. From the moment kids learn how to talk, they should be exposed to the many languages around the world. From the moment kids can draw pictures, they should portray the works of other countries. This awareness program would include a “Class of Modern Culture” implemented in schools everywhere that would teach students about the present-day cultures that exist.
Our generation has been given access to other parts of the world with the expansive Internet. With this tool we need to work on coming together as one. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Though we have not achieved his dream, we are getting there step by step. The last step is making each person aware of others’ cultures, and therefore others’ feelings. We live in a nation that boasts equality and diversity… but we can only achieve these things when we all thirst for knowledge about the world.