What are we afraid of?

Are we afraid of the different? 10th-grader Didi from the National Trade and Banking High school in Sofia provokes us with this question. She raises the important issue of discrimination and where it comes from.


You are walking on the street, thinking about a project you have to do for school, the presentation you are assigned to present in front of your new coworkers, the groceries you have to buy for dinner. People from the district are walking by, occupied with their own thoughts. And then you notice a smiling girl with her friend in the restaurant you walk by every day. It could be her brother, boyfriend, cousin of hers, that doesn’t matter at the moment. Because the thing that drew your attention isn’t her companion or even her joyful face, it’s the color of her skin – different than the one yours is.


When you come closer, you realize that the person she’s talking to is actually a girl. The second girl has the same skin color as you, but her hair is much shorter, she’s wearing a button up and jeans, rather than a pink dress as her friend. That’s why you thought she was male at first – boys have short haircuts, boys dress up with shirts like this. The two girls are talking about religion. But it’s not the one you believe in, their faith is different, in comparison to yours. You’re almost past them at that point. As you are waiting for the traffic lights to become green, you see one last thing – the ladies have been joined by a boy, whose hands are holding those of the one with the short hair, and another girl that is kissing the girl with the different skin color on the mouth. It’s time for you to cross the road. You stand there for a moment without moving, just thinking. And then you decide – you start walking again.


What would your reaction be if you were to witness such a situation?


Social status, religion, skin color, physical or mental disability, feminine or masculine, straight or part of the LGBT community, it shouldn’t matter. It’s just a glimpse of one’s character. We should accept one for who there are and treat them as equals. Each of us has differences but in the end, everyone is a human just like you. A person with flaws and strengths, fears and regrets, dreams and hopes.


According to Wikipedia “in human social behavior discrimination is treatment or consideration of/or making a distinction towards a person based on the group, class, or category to which the person is perceived to belong. These include age, height, disability, family status, gender, generation, race, religion, and sexual orientation.”


The differences we have are based on various territorial, social and historical circumstances. The experiences our new generations have are distinct from the ones our parents and grandparents had. That’s where stereotypes are originated from. Their followers tend to see one as a part of a certain group they don’t approve of and not as an individual. They judge one based on a single characteristic and not on one’s personality as a whole.


“I think people force discrimination on us when we are very young. It’s not necessary bluntly, it’s by supposedly harmless remarks – running like a girl, look at this fag, the yellow one, etc. The best way to deal with it is to be informed, to communicate with a big variety of people and not let others affect your way of thinking without convincing arguments”, says Detelina Krusteva, a student in 10th grade at the National Trade and Banking High School.


“As social creatures, we are often exposed to situations of meeting new, different people. We may not have the same points of view but it’s important to remember that everyone has the right to express themselves and be comfortable in their skin. One should be free to be who one is without the fear of being judged”, adds Desislava Kirilova, a student in 11th grade.


And what about you, are you afraid of the different?