This is the fourth post in a series of five. Here are parts one, two, and three.

Semantics

The meaning or the interpretation of a word, sentence, or other language form

The study of the relationships between various signs and symbols and what they represent.

Minority

The smaller in number of two groups forming a whole.

A group or party having fewer than a controlling number of votes.

An ethnic, racial, religious, or other group having a distinctive presence within a society.

Let me introduce you to two friends of mine.

S is 23 years old. He has dark skin, likes to smile, and almost always has 5 O’ Clock shadow. He comes from the southernmost state of a country which is described as either developing or third world. He came to the United States on a student visa when he was 18 years old. While he was able to get one small scholarship, his family still had to gave him their entire life savings to cover the costly tuition in the hope that S would one day secure a well paying job and take care of his siblings and parents. He is now in the process of applying for US residence and works as a computer programmer for a local technology firm here in San Diego. When asked if he has experienced racism here in the United States, S replies that he has experienced nothing which compares to the discrimination he suffered in his home country because his skin is darker, he is from the South, and he did not speak the official national language well. S now speaks flawless English and his accent is hardly noticeable.

N is 25 years old. He is shorter than most women he meets at the bars. Like S, he also has dark skin and also a big smile. He comes from the southernmost state of a country which is described as either developing or third world. He came to the United States when he was 19 years old. He did not know what to expect from the United States, but knew he did not want to be trapped in the same small village which has caused his family so much suffering. Upon arriving to the United States he began working a blue collar job and taking various adult ed. classes at night. One day while talking to his family back home, he mentioned that he would like to take classes at a technical trade school. The next day his family sent him their entire life savings and he enrolled. Two years later he began working as a database specialist at the same technology firm where S works. When asked if he has experienced racism here in the United States, N replies that he has experienced nothing which compares to the discrimination he suffered in his home country because his skin is darker, he is from the South, and he did not speak the official national language well. N now speaks flawless English and his accent is hardly noticeable.

S and N are now very close friends. S calls himself a moderate liberal whereas N is a staunch conservative. When S and N tell people they meet at bars what they do, N is almost always upset by their reaction. When S says he is a programmer, it is accepted without a blink, but when N says he is a database specialist, the reaction is utter shock. Some White liberals go as far as to reach out and touch N’s shoulder and offer their congratulations that he has come so far in life. S is offered nothing more than a slight smile.

N is often referred to as a minority, but S has never once been called a minority. N cannot stand the sympathy offered to him because he is considered a minority even though he comes from the same circumstances as S. He is paranoid that others might think he was hired because of his ethnicity even though he is the most capable person in his department. He hates knowing that his children will be called minorities and will be treated like minorities while S’s children will be expected to perform as well, if not better, than the average American.

S is from a small village in Kerala, India. N is from a small village in Chiapas, Mexico.

To be continued …

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