Ignorance: Anything but Bliss

My piece is focused on how my family and the community I grew up in have shaped my American Creed. Many of my family members are immigrants and I grew up in a town where I am a minority, giving me a unique perspective concerning equal treatment for minorities.

By Maya S. from Staples High School in Connecticut

America is the country of equality, opportunity, and prosperity. It is a country founded and built by immigrants. It claims to be accepting of people of different races, gender, sexuality, and religion. However, this is not a valid assessment of where America is today on issues concerning minority groups. Immigrants and minority groups are frequently discriminated against in our society. Even in towns like Westport which claim to be open-minded, there are undertones of racism and xenophobia. Because many members of my family are immigrants, and I have grown up in a community in which I am a minority, it has shaped my American Creed to be focused around equality and acceptance for others in society.

The United States is known as the land of opportunity, many people come from all over the world for these reasons and with hopes for a better life. Immigrants come to America with the intention of getting a job, being successful, and giving their family a better life. Additionally, parents decide to “migrate so their children can benefit from things like superior education, and plentiful job opportunities” (Nuñez et al.). America is filled with endless opportunities that draw people from all around the world. Americans don’t realize how fortunate they are to live in a country with endless education and job opportunities. My dad came to America from India to get his graduate degree from Cornell. He met my mom when they were working in Manhattan. They moved to Westport before my older sister was born in 1998. We have lived in Westport for my entire life, and it has definitely impacted how I see the world. Although many people who live in Westport are kind and accepting of others, there have been instances in which people have made remarks that have been prejudiced or assumptive based on our race. One time, my dad was on the train commuting for work. The woman sitting next to him had a disagreement which led to him asking her if she voted for Trump. She immediately replied, “Can you even vote?” (Venkat). When my dad told me this, I was shocked. It was a harsh reminder of the world we still live in. One that isn’t accepting of people of different nationalities or ethnicities. The fact that she made the assumption that he couldn’t vote based on the color of his skin proved to me that our country is not living up to its promise of guaranteeing equal treatment for all. This was not an isolated incident. There have been many times where I have not felt accepted by my peers while living in this town. Westport claims to be a town that embraces and accepts people of all different backgrounds, however, this is not true if the individual physically looks different from the average Westport person. This is still an issue that affects many Americans today and is a huge problem in our country. My American Creed has been driven by my experiences and my family’s. My American Creed is focused on acceptance and equality for people no matter what their background is.

On the outside, people may view Westport appears as an accepting town that is considerate of others in society; however, there are many people who are ignorant or disrespectful to others in this town. Westport is a small wealthy town in New England; it’s safe to say the people who live there are in a bubble. The Westport population is 85% white; other races such as Asian, Latino, and African American are less than 10% of the population (Data USA: Westport, CT). Needless to say, Westport isn’t the most diverse town. Sometimes it can be hard to find people who understand what it’s like to be a minority or understand what it feels like to be an outsider. I am lucky enough to have friends who are aware of these things and can sympathize with me. I am also apart of a club at Staples called Unity in Diversity. We talk about issues involving minorities at Staples and any incidents we experience. This club has helped me find a core group of people who want to have a conversation on issues about race, gender, and sexuality, and how people who don’t fit into the standard category are treated. Finding people that have gone through the same things I have gone through has made me feel like I am not alone and have given me hope that even people who aren’t minorities can understand what minorities face in environments that aren’t diverse. However, the disregard for minority groups in towns like Westport across the US has shaped my American Creed to demand equal treatment for everyone no matter what the color of their skin is.

The community I grew up in and my family history has driven my American Creed to be focused on equality and acceptance for all Americans. Although America’s ideals such as equality, opportunity, and prosperity seem inviting to migrants, they are not always provided to their full extent. Especially in towns like Westport where many people aren’t open-minded to people who are different, the promise of equal treatment isn’t always guaranteed. My personal experiences and the stories I have heard from other minorities in Westport have pushed my American Creed to be centered around acceptance and equality for all. Many Americans are ignorant of the mistreatment of minorities in the United States. Because they don’t have the same experiences as people who are mistreated based on their background, it seems like the problem doesn't exist. People need to be mindful of the inequalities minorities in America face so the cycle of injustice does not continue throughout America’s future in the same way it has in the past.

Work Cited

"Data USA: Westport, CT." Datausa, Deloitte, datausa.io/profile/geo/westport-ct/#demographics.

     Accessed 5 June 2019.

Nuñez, Christina, et al. "Why People Migrate: 11 Surprising Reasons." Global Citizen, 4 Dec.

     2014, www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/why-people-migrate-11-surprising-reasons/.

     Accessed 3 June 2019.

Venkat. Interview. 29 May 2019. 

Staples High School

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