Why Are We...?

When does discrimination alter the 'manufacturable' opportunities? Are opportunities truly manufactured? Check your circumstances.

"My dictionary defines opportunity as a set of circumstances that make it possible to do something. The world has conditioned us to wait for an opportunity, have the good sense to spot it, and hope to strike at the appropriate time. But if opportunity is just a set of circumstances, why are we waiting around for the stars to align? Rather than waiting and pouncing with a high degree of failure, you might as well go ahead and create the set of circumstances on your own. If you make the opportunity, you'll be first in position to take advantage of it."—Biz Stone, THiNGS A LiTTLE BiRD TOLD ME.

Definition of Circumstance—A condition, fact, or event accompanying, conditioning, or determining another. -Merriam Webster

I march with taking every opportunity I see, regardless of who has them. My mother told me you meet everyone for a reason; a lesson, a gift, a story.

*

What is so wrong with being an opportunist? People see opportunists with a negative connotation. My hand is out, and all those willing to give, I take. The thing is, “taking” and “snatching” are two different words. Opportunist doesn't automatically mean user and that users are taking advantage of the good doers. Opportunist is defined as someone who believes in opportunism.

I stand up on my tippy toes at eight AM and take the candy off the counter. I met that opportunity when my mom went to the store and offered to buy me something. That opportunity awaited me, right?

So then, what is opportunism? To this, I may say, it is all up to interpretation. But regardless of if you believe it's a good thing or bad thing, it is a reckless thing to do. But is that a better way to do it? Do you make your own? After all, they are manufactured. I've made opportunities, like using my own mind to submit to summer programs and writing competitions. Stamped up with disapprovals I start to wonder why I'm alone, and even though it's not because of discrimination, I wonder how it is for those who don't have opportunities because of their circumstances and the discrimination they have because of them. It's disappointing that I can't fathom a reality where everyone can do and be what they want to do, regardless of unconquerable circumstances.

The problem is, I can fight hard on the empty promises of equity, equality, and freedom, but must fall back due to uncertainty and confusion, so let me ask you: Does religion have any say in what opportunities you have? Sex? Race? Sexual orientation? When are your opportunities altered? Do your circumstances change what your opportunities are? Because discrimination always slows something down.

Jenny can work eight hours day and night doing homework on the weekends to force that 4.0 that Jim didn't get, and instead Jim gets the job.

"We need a man's work."

Muslims were getting jobs easier ten years ago than they can now. My heart is filling with tar because I can't work in a bank. "I may steal," your white managers say to me. "I must fix roofs."

"Sorry, dad, I had to set the house on fire. Insurance is the only way I can keep the lights on. I'm happy it doesn't look like foul play." Except Dad already thought I was an arsonist and anything I say or do will be used against me in the court of law. I've liked fire since I was four.

Black and Hispanic men and women are going to bat for a country that never supported us, that throws us balls that we aren't good enough to hit.

*

"I don't stand for the pledge and I guess the lady had a problem with that," I said. 

"You don't stand for the pledge?" Chris said. 

"No. Why would I stand for this country when I'm still not being treated as I should be?" 

And I'll be damned, he said something only a privileged white boy would say, "We all have equal rights."

*

"We are all equal." 

"We have equal rights."

As of 2014, females earn 21.4 percent less than men in wages. The racial discrimination rates in the workplace have grown steadily each year.

1992 it was 374, 2006 it was 1,241.

15 to 43 percent of gay or transgender people are discriminated against in the workplace.

Workplace religious discrimination complaints have doubled over the last ten years.

Were you asked if our given circumstances have anything to do with how manufactured our opportunities can be? But no. People should discriminate, that's how the world works. Isn't that right Jon?

Jonathan Ostry, the deputy director of the research department of the International Monetary Fund, said "I would want to be sure that in a country with a lot of inequality those at the bottom still had opportunities to be well-educated, to have adequate nutrition, and were not shut out from credit and banks. Likewise, if there was a fair degree of equality, but nevertheless those at the bottom didn't have adequate opportunities, I'd be concerned." How much inequality is too much inequality, is that what you were asked? I'm confused Jon, can I call you Jon?

How the hell can everyone have opportunities if they didn't have the equality that others had to get the damn opportunities? Riddle me this. If Jabrayah is a black, gay, female, Muslim, and poor, what are her chances of getting a job compared to Michael, who is white, straight, male, Christian, and rich? Let's do math. Her chances are slithered down to 78.6 percent for being a female, 35.6 percent for being gay, approximately 20 percent for being black—does it need to get any lower for you to understand that she's probably not getting the job? Can't you assume that Michael would? I didn't say Jabrayah went to prison, I didn't say Jabrayah didn't complete school, Jabrayah did everything Michael did, and he won. Why?

*

Well Christopher, I hate to break it to you, but how many white men got stopped in New York under Stop and Frisk after it was already deemed unconstitutional and wrong? I can tell you that out of all the people that were stopped 85 percent of them were black. Eight percent were white. We are equal though, right? Well Christopher, maybe I should tell you that white men aren't pulled out of their cars and beaten.

Our rights are so equal though, you're right. I didn't see a white man get his arm broken in a restaurant for an argument with a white manager, all because his order was wrong. Police did that. You know, the people who are supposed to enforce these "equal rights" you speak of. I hate to break it to you Chris, but we aren't equal. You as a white man will always be able to do things that I can't. There are 40 percent more of white people at Yale, 63.2 more at Harvard. It's equal though, it just so happened that white people dominate the top schools in the nation?

*

I just so happened to mention this feedback out loud and, well, my aunt's response woke me right up. "We are equal, that's just black people's way of making excuses." Yes, the black man who went to Harvard and graduated with a 4.6 is easily looked over on a job application for the white man whose father owned the business next door and that black man has no excuse.

Don't tell me we are equal when my 5th grade teacher deemed me, "Smart for a black girl." Substitute teachers who claim I "talk white" even through endless arguments of how color has no volume. But that loud yellow shirt I wear is "gorgeous because of my skin" but the skin color I have isn't "gorgeous on my application."

But you're exactly what "they" want us to think. You are just another stereotype. A teen mother who works day by day at fast food restaurants and gas stations after dropping out of middle school and doing part time at Everest and Concorde. If that's equal to you, you have fun with that. If that's ok with you, you live that way.

I want to be better than that. And I don't want you to feel that I'm singling you out. Trust me, I commend you. You are stronger than most black women can be.

*

But I can't be you. I won’t be you. My opportunities are limited due to my circumstances, and although I will make my own, I am still working in a way that you didn't, and you won't. Because everyone thinks that this idea of "opportunity in America" is real, I won't go into the ideas of losing people in war because of the unequal thing that America has going on. I won't go into the ideas of Donald Trump discriminating against women on national television and then being voted the nation's president, winning with 80,000 votes. No, I won't speak of sitting in school on the first day and hearing teachers mumble "ghetto" under their breath once they say my name. Je'Soria. The common squiggly red line under my name represents how incorrect it is and how incorrect I am. Because I am not equal. I don't have the same the opportunities everyone deserves.

"But if opportunity is just a set of circumstances, why are we waiting around for the stars to align?" Well. Why are we?




Works Cited 

Pledger, Marcia. Workplace Religious Discrimination Complaints Double Over 10 Years. Cleveland: Huffington Post, 2011. Web. 23 April 2018. huffingtonpost.com

Burns, Crosby. Krehely, Jeff. Gay and Transgender People Face High Rates of Workplace Discrimination and Harassment. American Progress, 2011. Web. 23 April 2018. americanprogress.org

Unknown Author. Facts About E-RACE. Unknown: U.S. EEOC. Web. 23 April 2018 eeoc.gov

Unknown Author. Women's Bureau. Unknown. Web. 23 April 2018. dol.gov

Why are we...?

This is about whether or not circumstances are manufacturable and why or why not. This does establish hints at racism and talks about minorities.

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