07/17/2013 05:38 pm ET Updated Sep 16, 2013

Rising Above Ignorance

Usually during high school lunches what do you expect to hear teenagers talking about? You'd normally hear topics ranging from Justin Bieber to the newest phone someone received. Well, one day at lunch a couple of years ago, my friends and I started into a conversation about interracial marriage and relationships. This was one of my most vivid encounters with racism.

One of my (African-American) friends mentioned that she thought it was weird when a white woman was with a black man. She was quick to say after that she didn't mean it to be offensive and did believe that people should be with whomever they wanted, but that didn't change the fact that she said it, and that I heard it.

I was obviously quite astonished at first, as I come from a mixed race family. My father is African-American and my mother is Caucasian. Anyone who knows me knows this fact. It doesn't even occur to me that it is outside of the "norm"; it is just a part of who I am.

I would have been hurt to hear anyone say what she had said, but it was especially upsetting to hear it from a supposed friend. She did not say it with any ill will, but I was still offended. By her off-handedly saying that, it was a roundabout way of saying that I was "weird" being the product of an interracial union. I take immense pride being a part of two different cultures, and there I was, defending my entire state of being. I did not let my friend's comments get to me, seeing as though it would only cause me to get upset. Why bother letting negativity into your life anyhow? Instead of giving in to any of the anger I was feeling, I went the calm route and explained to my friend how I felt. I told her how damaging it could be to define someone simply by the color of his or her skin. There is a lot more to a person than just their physical appearance. You cannot judge a relationship and denote who should and should not be together.

It is a shame that situations involving racism and other forms of intolerance are still apparent in our society today. You would think that in the year 2013, people would be much more open and tolerant to everyone's differences. Still, just because other people choose to give in to such ignorance does not mean that their simplicity should define you. Be open and receptive to others. After all, ignorance only leads to a life filled with negativity. Our world is filled with different cultures, feelings and viewpoints; if you are ignorant to a certain culture you are essentially just closing yourself off to the many wonderful things in this world. If everyone were the same it would be quite boring. So why judge others for what they look like or who they love? Celebrate diversity by rising above ignorance and embrace the beauty in the world's differences.