Hi! So my name's Soleil Longchallon, and my partner and crime here is Nora Bekhiet. We're your basic, everyday teenagers...except now we have a mission. You see, we were assigned this English project not too long ago, and it was the most...well...proactive project I had ever been assigned. It was to create a movement. And no, no...I'm not talking about a bowel movement or something, (you were supposed to laugh there, ha ha!) but one that would focus on a particular issue in today's world. Of course when my teacher, Mrs. O'Donnell, dropped this on us in a time span of approximately half an hour, my head was spinning...what in the world would my issue be?! I mean, I'm just a sixteen year old girl living in an often forgotten town in New Jersey...what difference could I make??
I got to thinking about what I actually cared about...aside from getting good grades in school...shopping...and well, boys (Hey! At least I admitted it!!)...and then it hit me! It was something I personally had dealt with my entire life...being different. You're probably wondering what I actually mean by this, so I'll gladly explain. Isn't everyone different in their own way??! Well...yes, but that's not what I mean here. In my elementary and middle school, I had been surrounded by classmates that were predominately Caucasian, and where all the teachers were Caucasian as well. Of course there were a few African American students...and by a few I mean approximately three, some Latinos and Asians...but that was it in a school of about 350 students. I'm kind of ethnically vague, meaning that when you look at me and hear my name one generally has absolutely no idea what my ethnicity is. You see, I'm an olive skinned girl, with the darkest possible brown hair, but I have a French girl's name. Huh??!!! "Is she Spanish?? Is she Egyptian?? ...what is she?!" "STOP IT ALREADY I CAN HEAR YOU". Because of this, not only have I had one race's stereotypes put upon me, but probably around a dozen, which is quite sickening hearing the nonsense that comes out of some people's mouths.
That never really bothered me when I was very young. It was when I turned about eight that I saw how differently I was being treated compared to my white counterparts. They would often group us nonwhites together, dismissing us last or blaming us for things others did. But enough about that, you get the idea. This project is giving me the chance to address these concerns by educating the public about cultural awareness. But our group, Eliminating Ignorance for a Better Tomorrow (EIBT) doesn't stop there. We address all sorts of discrimination, whether it be when it comes to race, religion, sexual orientation, or even things that seem petty, like being harassed because you dress differently than your classmates. Ignorance is the root to all things when it comes to discrimination. People are scared of what they don't know, so they mock and ridicule it to keep it away from themselves. The thing is, they're really hurting themselves...because they will never have the opportunity to learn about all the wonderful things of the unknown.
EIBT will be hosting an event soon (the time and place TBA), where everyone will be encouraged to embrace who they are. What I mean by this is that, for instance if you're Nigerian, show up wearing traditional Nigerian clothing while bringing traditional Nigerian food and music for everyone to enjoy! If you're Jewish, come and share some of your traditions and stories with us! If you're in a relationship with someone of the same gender, bring them! I hope that by the end of the event, everyone will feel more culturally aware as well as diverse as a whole. Come and join us for a day of new experiences and fun! (: