Why Don’t we Get to Know Each Other?

By Samuel Phelps.

Every day, people lose vital opportunities as a result of dismissing people because of their looks. For instance, at the beginning of a chemistry course at MCC, I noticed that an African American man didn’t have any friends. I witnessed many people noticing him, and immediately turning their attention elsewhere and walking away. I didn’t understand the cause of this, so I made sure to partner up with him in our lab. Over the course of the semester, I became acquainted with the man, whose name I later learned was Robert Mayberry, and we became friends. Slowly but surely I began to understand who he was. Robert was a 48 year old African American man who had many chances to fight personal discrimination. I learned that he was an analyst for a government missile company. He was one of the most welcoming people I know. We had a lot of fun that semester. To this day, I still don’t know why the others would avoid him but I’m sure glad that I didn’t.

Another example of an amazing person that I almost lost the opportunity to meet was an Afghanistan veteran that was at my uncle’s house. He was covered in tattoos, had really long hair, and looked really rough and mean, so at first, I didn’t want to talk to him. However, when my mom prompted me, I went and asked him about himself and his background. Turns out, he was in a special force hunting down a criminal when his friend opened the door of an old barn and got caught in the middle of two automatic machine guns. The narrator dove to pull his friend out of the line of fire, but in the process he got shot seven times down his right side. He ended up retrieving his friend alive, but his friend died before he could get to the nearest hospital. He decided to get tattoos and grow out his hair to cover the scars. This man risked his life and literally took bullets for his friend, and I would have never known if I had listened to my initial thought and walked away.

I know from experience that we need to, at the very least, talk to someone and get to know them before we make silent judgments from how  someone looks. Otherwise, we will waste many great opportunities that carry the potential to change our lives for the better.

 

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