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Exoticism and Racism Go Together

RECONSIDER COMMENTARY

America is the salad bowl of the world, drawing millions of people from foreign lands, bringing their cultures along with them. However, some parts of America are less diverse than others, with Caucasian majorities. In many instances the majority is fascinated with the differences of foreigners. While there might be genuine interest with another person’s culture, after a while exoticism comes off as racism.

Racist commentary can be subtle, through sentiments like, “Wow your skin is just so dark, what race are you?,” “If you’re (fill in the blank race) you must speak that language!,” or the favorite, “This is my (fill in the blank race) friend.” These phrases are all too common and plague those who stand out due to their physical ethnic features. Exoticism is racist because there is no reason to point out these differences so casually.

It seems as though some people want to base a person’s identity off of their ethnic background. A person has so much more to offer the world and offer to relationships besides their ethnic identity. While racial background may or may not represent a portion of someone’s identity, that isn’t solely who they are. Sometimes people want to talk about other things besides being the spokesperson of their race.

It is offensive and ignorant to point out these differences, even though someone might be genuinely intrigued by another person’s culture. There are better ways to go about asking questions than saying something so blunt like, “How do you tie that scarf thing everyday?”

While people are proud of their heritage, sometimes they don’t want to stick out and be the exotic person in every group of friends or be known as the exotic boyfriend/girlfriend to their significant other’s parents. It’s not like people who aren’t Caucasian don’t watch football or eat ice cream on a hot summer day; in many cases they do the same everyday activities and the differences aren’t staggering.

The world is filled with so many cultures, religions, and ethnicities that Americans’ lack of knowledge and lack of social boundaries shows a lag in social progressiveness. People in other countries speak up to four or five languages and interact with other ethnicities everyday and don’t ask questions like, “You’re Mexican, how do you say ‘I’m hungry’ in Spanish?”

There is no reasonable explanation that anyone can come up with that explains why it’s okay to make someone feel like they don’t belong or that they aren’t assimilated, or that they don’t fit American beauty standards. Everyone is human at the end of the day, and that is all that matters.

To point out someone’s physical differences is racist— plain and simple. If anything, it makes the person who isn’t the same race feel uncomfortable and feel like they stick out like a sore thumb when they want to be treated as an equal and not as an exotic treasure.

—Ashley Bauler

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