Intolerance – Do you think before you speak?

Despite America’s reputation for being a “melting pot” of cultures, not every American — or college student — lives up to this reputation. Intolerance is a recurring theme in America. Historically, we have “overcome” intolerances based on race, religion, and gender. Laws were created to make racism and sexism illegal. And yet, these intolerances, among many others, continue to remain prevalent in American society.

Being intolerant is hard to define. Intolerance is shown through racist, sexist, or homophobic comments. It can be treating others of a different race, ethnicity, or religion differently. It can be as simple as joking about someone being “retarded” or saying “that’s so gay.” An intolerant comment does not necessarily make someone intolerant to another group, but perhaps ignorant or misinformed. Being intolerant or ignorant is common. Many of us don’t consider these types of comments or jokes to cause harm, and we say them without even thinking of their meaning or consequences.

We’re all guilty of it. We all make comments or jokes that imply intolerance of others’ backgrounds, and sometimes you laugh at others’ jokes without thinking of their meaning. And that’s okay. We’re allowed to laugh and make comments. But we need to think about the meaning behind these jokes and comments and make sure that we understand their true meanings and that we aren’t offending anyone when we say them. If a friend tells you that a comment makes him uncomfortable, don’t repeat it; it’s probably making someone else uncomfortable as well. Be careful how you word things. There is a line, and you should not cross it. That line, unfortunately, is very blurry.

On college campuses, students of different backgrounds and experiences come together in one place. Not everyone is going to get along and become best friends, and you are bound to offend at least one person by a joke or comment, especially when there is alcohol involved. The line between right and wrong becomes even blurrier than ever before, and you are surrounded by people that you want to impress. You joke about others, based on their differences. Based on their race, their religion, how much money their parents make, what major they are, what fraternity their in, the people they hang out with. We all do it and we all judge others based on things that make no real difference.

You can have thoughts about others and you can judge others if that is how you want to view people. But be careful how you share these thoughts, and who you share them with. Calling someone out for being different isn’t necessary. And it especially isn’t necessary to do it on social media or online. That makes your intolerant comment more permanent, and it can easily be taken out of context.

We are all entitled to our own opinions. But, be sure you think before you share these opinions. Don’t be intolerant to others’ differences. Embrace the differences; we are all unique. College, and the real world, would be so boring if we all came from the same background. Meeting new people from all over the world, from all different cultures, that speak different languages, and practice different religions, and that have different opinions is so exciting. Take advantage of it.

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