Defying Assumptions

1 min
at 10:43 PM

Assumptions about group characteristics are at the heart of racial and religious prejudice. Nathania Said defies them all.

My name is Nathania Said. Can you tell me what religion I follow, or what ethnicity and race I am? My first name comes from Hebrew origin, so you may assume I am Jewish. However, my last name is Said; therefore, you may assume I am Muslim, but I am neither. My family is Christian. However, I would say that I am not that religious. People would also guess from my last name that I am Arabic or of Middle Eastern origin, but I am not.

Maybe I should describe to you what I look like. I am short, dark-skinned (medium brown) but also light skinned in some places, have terrible tan lines, light brown hair, dark brown eyes, a plump face, and small eyes. Can you tell my ethnicity and race now? Probably not, how about if you saw an image of me? You would say I am Asian. Most people have told me, “You look Chinese, but you also don’t.” People think I am too “dark” to be Chinese.

Well what I am then? I am Chinese Indonesian.

Sometimes I find it very frustrating how people generalize me. I always get questions like “What are you?” Well, I hope I’m human. “Why are you so dark?” Maybe I was born that way? And no, I do not drink soy sauce.

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In this society, we assume many things. Many wrong things. This is because society generalizes and stereotypes people.

Not all Asians have small eyes, not all blacks are dangerous, not all women are weak and emotional, not all Mexicans are illegal immigrants, and not all students that take the most APs are the smartest. Most of this isn’t even true.

Chinese Indonesians or Chindos are a marginalized ethnic group in Indonesia. That's a fact. They are associated with wealth, always showing off their riches and status. Well, that’s partially true. In movies, Chindos are the big bad gangsters. People who don’t know the meaning of hard work because they reap from the riches of the family. Therefore, life is easier for them. But not for my family, and not for me.

Remember, one person is not representative of the whole population or group. Through stereotyping and generalizing, people tend to misunderstand many things.

People misunderstand me.

With a Perspective, I am Nathania Said

Nathania Said is a senior at Dougherty Valley High School in San Ramon.

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