Friday, February 20, 2009

"Africa, You Did the Damn Thing" --Mean Girls

When I was 12-years-old, we had a guy from Ghana, Africa move in with us for the summer. It's a long story how this all came to be, but we really didn't know this guy at all. From what we had heard, he was a really nice guy who needed a place to stay before he started school at BYU-Hawaii in the fall. 

My whole family was a little nervous about the whole thing, mostly because we didn't know what to expect from this situation. We weren't sure if we'd like this guy, or get along with him, and most importantly, if we'd feel comfortable with him in our home. When he arrived, he was very shy and timid. He was probably the first true African I had ever seen in my life. 

My parents have always taught my siblings and I to be very accepting of different religions, races, cultures, lifestyles, etc. We were taught to be open-minded and always respect others and their opinions, whether we agreed with them or not. We grew up knowing that everyone is equal and deserves the same opportunities as everybody else. 

Having a black person in our home was not an issue of race. We were eager to get to know this person and welcome him into our family. We knew he would probably be overwhelmed coming to a new country and leaving his family behind, so we really tried to make him feel at home. It was a little difficult at first, because our cultures were so different. But after some time we started to adjust and get to know each other. Pretty soon, Kojo was a member of the family. In fact, everybody in my entire neighborhood was psyched about Kojo. He was super popular at church, people were always offering him rides and inviting him over for dinner. He was such a warm and friendly guy, that you just couldn't help but love him. Even at 12-years-old, I was impressed with the fact that race wasn't an issue when Kojo came to our little community.

The summer came to an end and it was time for Kojo to go to BYU-Hawaii. Everyone was very sad to see him go, especially me, because he had become like a brother to me. To this day, he is still treated like a member of my family. 

Instead of focusing on the negatives aspects of racism in our country, I think it is also important to look at how far we've come. In this particular situation, a different race and culture were not only accepted, but happily embraced. We still have a long way to go, but I feel like we are moving in a positive direction with each generation. 

4 comments:

  1. This country has come so far but it is men like Jesse Jackson that keep trying to downplay what we have done. We have so many cultures here it can be hard but I think in our day especially we have seen a time where the races for the most part are in harmony with each other. Im sure there is acceptions to the rule but I don't see those very often when it comes to the work place environment. I for one am proud of how this country has grown but I still think equlaity laws need a little tweaking.

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  2. I experienced almost the same thing when i lived in South Africa except the opposite situation. I was a white guy going to black communities and i was the only white guy for miles. A lot of the people I met didn't treat me like some racist white guy and i loved it. Because they didn't treat me that way we got along so well. I loved the people for who they were and not what color their skin was and I hope they felt the same way about me. I agree with what you said about how we shouldn't concentrate on the negative aspects of racism. We do need to realize what great blessings and freedoms we have now and build on those as best we can.

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  3. I agree with what you said about our country coming a long way regarding race, and we need to continually strive to become even more accepting and respectful to everyone. Obviously, people are of different races and it's always going to be like that; we can't pretend like everyone is the same color. But we need to constantly find ways to embrace and value differences (as cliche as that sounds) and reduce the damaging effects of racism.

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  4. I think you are right. Our country has come a long way in regards to how we treat other races but it's true, we still can be a lot better. I'll be honest. It truly makes me sick when I hear someone being racist towards someone else. I'm not racist at all. I even married someone that is Mexican American. Of course, I could still be racist but I'm not. My parents taught me to respect all other races and culture as well. I have dear friends of mine that are all different races. Asian, African-American, Brazilian, Mexican, and lots more. I really enjoyed your story. It's good to hear that there are still people out there that aren't racist.

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