The Audacity of Thinking For Yourself

A friend of mine recently received a promotion at work. Soon afterwards, because of the promotion, he was ostracized, criticized and bad mouth by some of his co-workers, especially those that are the same race as he. While he was sharing this with me I made a face. He quickly explained that most minority groups put pressure on each other to behave a certain way. Personally, I have witnessed the same sort of negative peer pressure on the streets. Most of the young men I have mentored have been minority and most of them have been pressured to adhere to a certain “acceptable behaviors.” I myself have also been criticized for not conforming.

As a minority myself, I have always been puzzled by the degree of ignorance that can be brought against one for such simple things as the music one listens to, or the way one speaks English or in my case Spanish. This sort of thinking can also threaten or seek to intimidate a person of the same race or ethnicity for other reasons, such as, political differences, for playing a different sport and even for daring to dream of higher education. It is very strange to find such narrow thinking in a country with so much academic progress. Instead of being lauded for their drive they will be vilified simply because they think for themselves.

With the upcoming elections, one of the missing points of view is an educated one. There is a lot of criticism aimed at certain candidates because of something he allegedly said, but very little facts to corroborate the criticism. Most of the time when I am asked about a particular candidate the question is loaded. It is already leaning in a particular political direction. When I ask questions about the source, context, or specifics of their information they usually have no idea. Yet these are the sorts of individuals vilifying others of the same race or ethnicity because they do not share the same opinion.

If we minorities expect to reach new heights we should start by listening to each other earnestly, allowing each of us to have his or her own opinion and come to the understanding that coercion, threats, or vandalizing a magazine rack are not valid or intelligent ways to prove a point. That might work in Latin America where corruption is the way of governments, but in the USA it will not gain you credibility.

In short, just because we share a race, an ethnicity, or even the same language doesn’t obligate any one to adhere to the viewpoints of the rest. We are individuals with intelligence, therefore it is our duty to use it.


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