Breaking Down Barriers

By Tracey Flores

12th grade – Chelsea High School

(The following essay was read aloud Monday as the winning Chelsea High essay at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Awards Ceremony in Chelsea High School.)

My dream for breaking down barriers is to break the stereotype of a Latino girl that grew up in a city like Chelsea. In order to break the barrier, I want to become a radiation oncologist, to demonstrate that someone’s background does not affect their outcome in life. Today, people’s views of Latinos are based on how they are portrayed by the media, and in movies and television. They are portrayed as being violent, thieves, drunks, and full of disease. Sadly, people like Donald Trump advocate this stereotype to the public and turn the people against Hispanics. Whenever I enter a restaurant or store that is full of whites, all I get are glares full of hatred and disgust. These people assume that I fall into the stereotype of a “typical” Hispanic girl, without knowing anything about my character. I should be able to feel comfortable in any area, without worrying about having to deal with racism. My mother is a chef and has had her food rejected by some s imply because they did not trust an Hispanic to cook their food; t hey did not even give her food a chance. I want to just prove to the public that almost no Hispanic fall into the stereotype created by society.

Another stereotype created by modern society is of a girl from a “ghetto” city, such as Chelsea. Movies such as Eight Mile show the women of a ghetto as being pregnant young, having no respect for themselves and being an addict of a certain vice. On various occasions when I’ve met a new person, he or she couldn’t believe that I am from Chelsea, simply because I dress properly, speak without slang, and have not attempted to drop out. I even have family members in private schools in New Jersey and North Carolina who think of my siblings and me as ignorant. They also treat my cousins from Lynn as if they are uneducated. Despite m y better grades, my greater academic accomplishments, and completion of rigorous out of school programs, they will never new me as t heir equal solely due to living in Chelsea. My parents are constantly being urged by their friends to look after me because in their minds, the only triumph Chelsea girls obtain are getting pregnant by 16. My grades and extracurricular activities are completely ignored by many merely because of where I live.

I have worked hard and have only dedicated my time to school in order to hopefully one day achieve my dream of becoming a radiation oncologist. By becoming a radiation oncologist, I would show the public that race and residence has little to no impact on one’s future. It would how people to not believe the stereotype modern society has fabricated about me. Instead of judging by race or upbringing, I hope those people will learn to only deem others by identity and nature.

In our schools, children and teens will see that if a girl from Chelsea can become successful in life, maybe they can too, which will motivate them and give t hem hope. Maybe our schools will learn to have higher expectations for their students and give opportunities for all races.

Maybe in our homes, it would bring more pride to parents since just by telling my mother my career choice, her face lit up with glee. Maybe parents that are minorities will motivate their children if they see one of their peers has reached so far as becoming a doctor. Maybe homes will be filled with more positivity and hope if family members know society will accept them more and so they will not feel confined and restricted in t heir skin. Maybe teens will work harder in school and will spend more time at home study8ing than in the streets endangering their lives.

By becoming a radiation oncologist, I will demonstrate that Hispanics are committed and hard workers. I will show my community that skin color and ethnicity has no impact on a person’s path in life. My community would respect my hard work and position and people will realize that stereotypes barely describe a group of people; that it is unjust to assume one’s character simply because of race and background. Hopefully this will lead to less racism and discrimination in Chelsea, and more respect and pride.

One should not be judged at first glance merely because or ace or where one grew up. We should learn to judge someone only after getting to know her. People should get along with others with t heir same interests and hobbies, not because they have the same skin tone. People should be rivals only when they have strong differing opinions and viewpoints, not because they grew up in contrasting places.

Barriers don’t belong in a community since it will not function well as a whole. Stereotypes create barriers that lead to mistrust and hate. Barriers only complicate our daily lives and compromise the American identity of being a unified nation. A community that has peace and tranquility is the one that is most prosperous. Everyone needs to see eye to eye since it is for the best for the community and all selfish viewpoints must be set aside. When we get along with our neighbors, they are there when we need them. When we need a helping hand, our neighbors will be there. When we need to hear truthful advice, our neighbors will be there. When we need help shoveling snow or cleaning our lawn our neighbors will be there. In the end, it is better to have harmony with our community and neighbors. Prejudice and racism only creates the downfall of our community.

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