Our True Nationality Is Mankind Essay

The two essays are winning essays by students in the competition, Growing Up Asian in America organized by Asian Pacific Fund.  They were asked to write a letter to Senator Kamala Harris.

“Beneath All Skin there is a Soul”

Dear Senator Harris:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”— Martin Luther King Jr. This dream has not yet been fulfilled. Over 250 African-American people were killed by police in 2016; 22 percent of Hispanic-Americans admitted to experiencng discrimination; Muslim-Americans are irrationally suspected for wrongdoings committed by a minority, while many suffering refugees are stopped from entering America. When will we let go of skin color or religion and open our eyes to see that every individual is defined by their ambitions and their actions?

Many believe that segregation once present in America is a matter of the past. This notion is completely contradicted by recent actions. Though Muslim-Americans have been victims of social inequity, political actions have been taken to prevent them  from entering the country. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” states the Constitution—yet an act blatantly created to prevent people belonging to a certain religion from entering the country is currently in action.

As a senator, you represent the voice of the people. You also have the power to write new bills. I hope you will use your influence on the future of our country to prevent such actions from being repeated in the future, and work towards creating bills to improve and better the state of racial and religious discrimination. As America’s diversity increases, so does America’s fear of diversity in proportion. We need to accept rather than segregate, to see that beneath our skin color and religious beliefs, we are human.

We are a country of immigrants. Seeing how my immigrant parents enhance the lives of many around them has greatly widened my awareness on the role such individuals play here. Allowing such intolerance seems  to be not only a breach of the Constitution. Beneath all skin, whether it is of natives or of immigrants, there is a soul; this soul determines who we are. “Our true nationality is mankind.”— H.G Wells. Maybe one day, when we learn to embrace with open arms, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream will come true.

Sincerely, Avighna Suresh.

This essay is an Honorable Mention Winner in the essay contest, Growing Up Asian in America, conducted by Asia Pacific Fund.

Avighna Suresh is an eighth grader from Challenger school in Fremont.

A Letter of Hopes

Dear Mrs. Harris,
We live in a country of creativity. We live in a country where everyone can speak. We  live in a country where ideas spark into actions. This country continues to improve each day, but people still face discrimination. As an eight year old girl living in Los Angeles , I was always embarrassed to embrace my culture. I continually asked my parents why I was different, why my eyes were brown instead of blue, why my skin was darker than others. In my school, there were only two other Indians. All my friends had blue-green eyes, golden hair, and light skin. I longed to be exactly like them. I could not take away my heritage and culture, yet I always wanted to. In Los Angeles, I only saw people who looked the same.  I was different and for so long I wanted to be identical.  I was embarrassed to eat rice and curry for lunch, so instead I ate grilled cheese to fit in. My family used to go to temples and wear Indian clothes. I was always ashamed to wear them out in public for everyone to see and judge. I always packed extra clothes to change into. If I could say something to my younger self, I would say that it’s acceptable to be different and embrace it.

Currently, I am a thirteen year old living in the Bay Area. I look like everyone else, I am the same. I met people who are brown-eyed, brown-skinned, and have black hair. I fit in and am happy to share my culture and my heritage with everyone. I am no longer abashed to go out in public wearing traditional Indian clothes. I enjoy embracing my heritage.

However, I see people who are like my old friends, who want to be the same. So, I have a hope for the country. I hope for people not to be judged based on religion, gender, skin color, or past, but on their merits , their contributions to society, community service, their positive roles in associations. I hope people will be appreciated based on their actions, for actions speak louder than words.

As a senator, I hope you will stand for everyone. I hope you will tell everyone that it is alright that you are different, that each and every one of us is unique in our own way. I hope you will stand for the voices that cannot be heard. If you accomplish this, we grow. We develop. We cultivate. If you do, then we become a country of prosperity.

Sincerely, Manasa Ayyala. 

This essay is an Honorable Mention Winner in the essay contest, Growing Up Asian in America, conducted by Asia Pacific Fund.

Manasa Ayyala is an eighth grader from Fallon Middle school in Dublin.

Humanity today is regressing. Whatever steps we take forward, they take us back as human beings.

We live in a world that, although it has borders, it is limitless. People can travel anywhere, see anything, experience every feeling that ever existed, but we are not satisfied. We try to impose borders on ourselves, we fight today to be recognized as not belonging to “their community”, to be labeled as part of a smaller group. We fight today to impose limits to a world in which yesterday people have fought so that it didn`t have any. And we applauded them.

We live in a world that, finally, recognizes all religions and beliefs and in which any person can choose his/her religion. People can worship any god, can praise the energy of nature that inspire them without feeling threatened or scared. It is the first time in history when people are not blamed for their beliefs. And we fought for this. But we now try to take this away from the people. We engage in holy wars or public mockery campaigns against the religions that we don`t understand. We shut our minds from knowing more about the people around us, their thoughts and beliefs. And we blame them for being different.

We live in a world that is capable of printing out tridimensional copies of almost any object. But, in the same world, 870 million people go to bed each night hungry. We live in a world torn between technological progress and human regress where we move forward just through our inventions, but not through our understanding of each other. We prefer today to invest in research for new Smartphones or the cure for boldness than in finding the cure for HIV/AIDS and feeding the world.

We live in a world that has never been such at peace as it is today. But still nations invest in arming themselves and preparing for the inevitable “next war”, individuals get bombarded each day through the media by images and sounds of guns going off, of mothers crying after their children. We tell our children than they should protect themselves, that the boogeyman is always just behind the corner masked as a Muslim, Christian, masked as the people you don`t understand so you don`t like. And we then wonder why children start shooting their colleagues.

We live in a world that has invented the telephone, internet, social media so that people can communicate easier. But we have never felt so alone and out-of-touch as we do today. Hidden behind the screens of our computers, tablets, Smartphones, we feel alienated from what the world has to offer. We have stopped looking at nature a long time ago and we have started destroying it without thinking about the consequences.

We live in a world that prides itself through the work of geniuses. Their work is promoted in order to inspire and enliven us, to guide and help us realize our full potential. But we ridicule them, treat them as pariahs of the society. And we let mediocrity rule the way our lives turn out.

We live in a world that gives birth to great leaders. But we let ourselves be ruled by a small group of politicians that take the vote of many and make it insignificant. They have the power to change our lives, but they don`t. And we continue to support them considering that we have no alternative.

We live in a world that has created beautiful music, inspiring literature and breathtaking sceneries. But we continue to spend our days trapped behind a desk eight hours a day, dreaming of things that we could do differently in our lives instead of doing those things. We dream of wealth, we dream of happiness, we dream of conquering the world  and changing its fate. But we never walk down the path that could lead to those dreams becoming reality.

We live in a world that holds both beauty and ugliness, both joy and sorrow. We live in a world where not every person thinks alike and where this freedom of thought makes us happy. We live in a world that shows us small miracles each day, either through the beauty of nature or through the beauty of those walking through our lives.

We live in a limitless world, which has granted us the right to be free and equal and has given us the opportunity to learn from one another. It tried to teach us the differences between us and the fact that they make us equal, not tear us apart. It has tried to teach us what is important in the world and what is the right thing to fight for in our lives.

We should stop fighting about democracy in other countries and start asking if we really have a say in our own country. We should exercise the right to vote and strengthen the mechanisms of government as power corrupts even the most strong-minded. We should stop giving the right to decision to a small group just because they say they know best. We know best and, even if we don`t, the collective power would decide what is best. Don`t let them be the new aristocracy.

We should promote meritocracy in our community, not mediocrity. Don`t say to your children that it is okay to be average, say to them that we all must thrive to achieve our full potential. We must lead by example in all aspects of our lives, not by simply following the herd. No, it`s not okay to be average if you haven`t try to be more than that. Yes, we need carpenters, plumbers, electricians, but if you are one of them it doesn`t mean you are average. It means you have the opportunity to learn how to become the best in that field.

We should stop taking pictures of plants and animals to show to your friends and family. Look at the plants, animals, beauty of what nature created to your own eyes, not a camera. Share this beauty with your friends and family by bringing them to witness the majestic wonders near us.

While technology and democracy has given us the power to fast forward the world in which we live in, it has also corrupted us. It has given us the sense of absolute power and knowledge that makes a person feel like God. No, we are not gods and we cannot decide on the fate of others. They only have that right. But we can and we must change ourselves by taking knowledgeable decisions, making the right choices in life and not letting others decide for us.



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