Plenty of room to grow

Teen Editor-in-Chief Brooklynn Cooper.

Teen Editor-in-Chief Brooklynn Cooper.

People always say “laughter is the best medicine,” which is true, unless people are laughing at the expense of someone’s feelings. In today’s society, it is common to try to ease pain and discomfort by cracking a joke, but laughter should not have to be a defense mechanism.

Last month, the hashtag “#BrownParts” blew up on Twitter. The hashtag served as an outlet for people of color—not limited to blacks, but Latinos, Indians, Native Americans, and others—to express the hardships they experience every day that outsiders may not notice. One tweet by user @constantcurse reads “in 8th grade I had to make racist jokes about myself because it was the only way to make the kids in my class think I was funny #brownparts.”

Events like this happen every day in schools across the country, and sadly sometimes people of color are taught to feel inferior as early as elementary school. This type of behavior must end. It is never okay to put yourself down and call yourself derogatory names just to feel accepted by your peers. It is time for the brown community to embrace their beauty and raise their children to believe they are beautiful.

Another belief that is unacceptable is the one in which people can act a color. Twitter user @COPACETIC shared a popular experience: “being called an Oreo because you do not perpetuate the negative stereotypes set about your people #BrownParts.” No ethnic group can be described in one statement. The reason overgeneralizations hurt people is because no matter the race, every member is different, and they do not ALL love fried chicken or ALL want to bomb America. So why does the phrase “Oreo” exist?

It is not okay to say that just because a black female speaks intelligently, has naturally long hair, lives in a nice house, and respects her body that she equates to a “white girl” or an “Oreo.” Neither is it acceptable to call a Caucasian male “black” because he listens to rap and wears snapbacks and earrings.

Someone’s lifestyle or speech pattern cannot be categorized as a race, and joking about racial slurs does not mean that America has moved on from its past. This country has made progress, but there is still plenty of room to grow.