COLUMN: Don't judge an entire race based on one person

A friend on the social media website Facebook must have forgotten who I am. For that matter, they forgot where my family comes from.

Granted, I consider maybe 5 percent of the folks on Facebook to be actual friends, yet it still never ceases to amaze me the opinions that will circulate about a group of people when the person clamoring is friends with an individual from that group.It happens in real social situations, too.

Just the other week I stood victim to a verbal bashing of everything Latino by some acquaintances. I turned my cheek and held my tongue, but were it not for the respect I held for the individual there in front of me, I would have let them have it.

The respect I speak of is something I feel is warranted regardless of my thoughts on their opinion, and a sentiment I feel this person does not relate to. Sure, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but consider to whom it is voiced. The person listening may just be involved with the people you put down so demonstratively.

It is funny how black, white and tan our society is. As a whole we find it OK to badmouth people based on the stereotypes, and for Latinos, the tan shade of their skin. Countless times I have spoken to people that genuinely downgrade Latinos and their culture, while either completely forgetting I am Latino or just cannot tell. Even sadder, when I tell them, they feel no remorse.

Glance at my photo above. Do I look Latino? Some would say yes. Others might say no. But I'll say, what does it matter? What does it matter what a Latino looks like? For that matter, what does it matter an American looks like? Center your thoughts about people based on their individual actions and less on how they appear as a whole.It's the whole "dirty Mexican" or "promiscuous Latina" or "they want to change our language" talk that boils my blood. The type of rhetoric being thrown around by friends and associates is heavily saturated in racism. The resulting people skills that remain for the internet or the town hall are unbelievable. What's worse is that sometimes as a teacher I am put in positions to where I have to sift through passionate language and really figure out where a student stands on an argument. I like to believe that all their comments are merely passion, but their elder peers turn me off to that thought.

Maybe people genuinely do not know where I or others come from or we have never told them, but still to say any hateful words about people in front of anyone is uncalled for. Prejudice is a poison America has brewed and digested for itself far too long. And now our children regurgitate it.Don't get me wrong. Hispanics are guilty of it, too. I have walked into many conversations in Spanish where an individual is speaking badly about a white or black person and held their individual actions accountable to their race. At some level it is much easier to get away with by using a different language. As a child I used to get frustrated when my family would be speaking in English and suddenly switch to Spanish because it gave people the perception that we were talking about them. Honestly, sometimes we were. Still, I do not recommend it.In our community and across the country and examination of self and rhetoric is needed. Let's start in North Augusta.