Every sophomore English class at LGHS reads Maus by Art Spiegelman as a means of broadening our horizons and further understanding the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. The book opens up discussions of race and religion within the classroom. However, it also emphasizes the fact that racism is not limited to the racially and ethnically privileged. In Maus, Art’s father, Vladek, judges a black man based on the color of his skin, even though Nazis persecuted Art’s father based on his ethnicity. Valdek’s racism poses the question: can people who face discrimination also discriminate? The resounding answer is yes.
Just because someone has faced or continues to face discrimination in their own lives does not make it okay to discriminate against others. People of color can still be racist, and it is wrong to discriminate in any situation. Because former victims understand discrimination’s effects, they have a moral responsibility to avoid hurting others in the way they have been hurt before. The message is the same for acts of discrimination both small and large. Whether you engage in cultural appropriation or are openly racist, it is essential to remember that your actions have effects.
People of color who belong to different minorities have a duty to accept one another because we all face similar issues. When we discriminate against another minority group, we enable other acts of racism. This is one of the reasons it is crucial that, as a community, we practice what we preach. We have to consciously think about how we feel if someone is racist towards us.
You and the groups that you are a part of, racially or ethnically, deserve respectful treatment. In return, you need to treat others with that same respect. We have to remove this mindset of stereotyping, aggressive grouping, and prejudice, and starting with ourselves is the best way to go. Be mindful of your actions and respect other minorities. Remember that even if you are a victim of discrimination, you still could culturally appropriate and be insensitive or racist. In this world, at a time filled with all types of discrimination, remember that change starts with us.