Mentality of Brutality Breeding Commonality

Jaedyn Vela

Within the world today, there are so many factors that divide us. It seems as though coming together to divide and conquer is in a reversal, we are being divided and conquered. “Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us- Black, white, everyone- no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out.”- Michelle Obama.

How far does racism go to seep into our hearts and saturate us with a false belief? A false identity of what others bestow upon us, like a weight on our shoulders, telling us who we are and what we are before we can be who we truly are. A parasite feeding off the lies we believe, the very lies it sells us, intruding our minds and breaking our hearts. Now, living in a world where it seems “normal” for the news to constantly blast a new shooting, a new death, more violence, and more silence, it feels as if some of us are facing the uncomfortable reality; we are sitting ducks. One just waiting for someone else to do something, or for something else to happen. How far is too far? What is too much? Who is willing? By not stepping up to make a change, we are choosing the worst change, to simply deal with it.

My heart breaks for any who have found themselves in hateful encounters, and though not having had to deal with certain situations myself that many of a black complexion are living with, I can relate, to a degree, to how sneaky racism is, how it can be normalized, and how it can ooze its way into our own thinking. In grade school one year, being of a young age and following the crowd, my mind was exposed to the racist comments around me, absorbing the many lies, misconceptions, and stereotypes: “Mexican’s are cheap workers/cleaners…Hispanics are dirty, gross, dumb…” Coming home that day, I overheard my older sister talking about her heritage and how she came from Mexican/hispanic descent. I turned around with a disgusted look plastered on my face and a rude remark on my tongue, “EW! You’re Mexican?” My sister’s eyes grew wide, holding back a laugh of incredulous belief, “Um… I hate to break it to you, but you’re Mexican too….”

Not putting two and two together, if my sister was Mexican, then that would make me Mexican as well. How could the untrue remarks of others make me turn on myself and my own family? Tell me, how far is too far? How far is too far before steps need to be taken and the comfort zone needs to be broken? It seems our comfort and feelings of the need to be superior comes from the discomfort of those around us…

How bizarre!

“The hardest thing to do is leaving your comfort zone. But you have to let go of the life you’re familiar with and take the risk to live the life you dream about.”- T Arigo. Dreams and nightmares are moments made up in the head during sleep, supposedly. Reality hits, and the so-called “comfortable” and familiar world we are living in is something of a nightmare, while the dream of a reality of peace, love, and justice seems to be a mere aspiration. Hearing so many people say that they can’t go back, they can’t stop, after all the progress that has been made, after all those who have lost and have been lost, living in silence and in tolerance is not an option.

Though I may not know T Arigo, their words resonate deep within. One can listen to thought provoking wisdom and tuck it away for safekeeping or discard without much thought. The questions that need to be asked is, “What is keeping you stuck? What is holding you back from letting go of the old and stepping out for good change?” It is scary to take that leap, or rather, that one small step that feels like a huge leap, but nothing one wills to change will change if all there is is stagnancy. Looking back to my younger self, I wish this little girl knew that life isn’t just about having big dreams, letting go of the old and growing, nor simply stepping out of a comfort zone. It’s learning to also be comfortable in one’s own skin and being uniquely them – who they are as a whole person. If you cannot be who you are wherever you are, then what dream is that?