‘Stand for Racial Justice’ High School Essay Contest Winner: Wendy Wu
Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®) recently asked Northeast Ohio teens to weigh in on a question society often struggles to answer: What is racism, and what should we do about it? Nearly 200 students answered.
The following essay by Wendy Wu of Solon was the first-place winner in the senior-junior group. She is a student at Solon High School.
At the age of 11, I should be the kid who stares blankly into a distant object with a silly yet innocent gaze while licking the sweet flavors off of the colors of the rainbow lollipop. Or I should be the kid who runs carelessly over the sandy playground and whip up some dirt into the warm breezes, creating a dusty atmosphere while sharing waves of laughter with other children. It was my dream to become one of those kids. But something stepped in my path.
I will never forget the day I was judged. Not for merit. Not for an achievement. Not for an entry of artwork for a competition. It was my entry into her class that caused me to earn her contempt, maybe stemmed from the immutable fact of my yellowish pigmented skin or my almond-shaped eyes.
“Go back To China!” she said.
She stared at me with a pair of icy and cruel eyes, shattering the pride and confidence in myself.
Correct, I am an American born Chinese, and China is where my cultural roots lie. But to say those words is not right.
She shouldn’t have crossed the line. There are four words in that sentence. In Mandarin, four is a homophone with death. Indeed, those four words caused wilting emotional strength in me.
Racism is a bias against an individual by their physical appearance, cultural background, or ethnicity.
The hatred from that sunny day in sixth grade permeated through the air, and I breathed bitter racism, like the taste of the smoky filth in polluted air.
There are billions of people, all diverse and unique, on one Earth. And racism can happen anywhere and to anyone. Racism is the seed of the destruction of humanity that nourishes from daily discrimination of people of different races, from young to older people, from one pole of the Earth to another, growing and endangering unity among our shared identity as human beings.
I believe the active consciousness to stop racism begins in one’s community. For high school students like me, that should start from one student in a classroom to all. One should report discriminatory comments from classmates or teachers in the school and rude social media posts to the school officials, who should always prioritize society’s justice, starting from the school system, where they ensure that every student is prevented from promoting racism. Schools should also implement frequent educational lessons that teach students about the importance of respecting other individuals, including pointing out direct and indirect racist languages and acts to call for awareness. Students should engage in deep reflections of society’s race issues and be encouraged to step up and stop racism from spreading. Schools should encourage students to appreciate each other’s difference, no matter race or background.
Then, the wounds created by racism will be healed trough the kindness of people who believe justice can prevail. The power of hope will spread to every corner of the world.
The Stand for Racial Justice High School Essay Contest was sponsored by Tri-C’s Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Humanities Center in partnership with cleveland.com, The Plain Dealer and Sun News.
January 15, 2021
John Horton, 216-987-4281 firstname.lastname@example.org