Respect This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Lately, I have encountered many things in my small-town life and in the surrounding world which have allowed me to notice that respect is a hard quality to come upon in this day and age. Not only do I have this theory as a result of simply listening to the six o'clock news, but I also have had a lot of firsthand experience. I know that most people our age want nothing more than to be respected, but may I ask you - how can someone expect to be respected when they don't respect others, and don't even respect themselves?

You are probably wondering why I have decided to write about something that seems to have such a clear-cut definition, but my story is one that I am sure will surprise you, as well as give you a chance to look at respect in a totally different way.

A few weeks ago two of my friends decided to go to a big party outside of our small town ->little did they know that what they would encounter would have a dramatic effect on their lives. First of all, I must tell you I am not a violent person by any means, and also that prejudice is a word completely absent from my vocabulary. But that night both of those elements broke loose. When we go to a party, all we want to do is hang, have a good time, and hope the cops don't show up. But when racial slurs start coming up in a room where there are both white and African-Americans, it is almost impossible for someone to not become angry, especially after having consumed a considerable amount of alcohol. Anyway, that night more than anger erupted - madness and terror emerged.

What happened was a Caucasian male called an innocent black man a racial slur. This black male was obviously going to stand up for himself, so he started yelling back. Little did he know these words would cause the violence that would soon break out. People started pulling out knives, which weren't intended to be used in the first place, but later were used for different reasons than peace-making. Chaos broke loose when someone took a knife to another's stomach. It took only one person to start the violence until there were handfuls of people caught in a moment's anger with full intentions of causing death. Eight people were seriously hurt, one was hit by a car, six others brutally stabbed, and the last of the eight was stabbed to death - all because of one person's lack of respect for others. The person who made that first comment had no idea what a hell he would create.

It has been difficult for my friends to cope with the sights they saw that night. It is something they will have to live with the rest of their lives. People have no idea what consequences there might be, or what trauma they can cause in other people's lives because of their own selfishness. The way I see it, we were all created equal, and everyone else should realize this. The color of our skin has nothing to do with our emotions, intellects, or responsibilities, so if someone has a problem with judging someone by their skin, I hope they can realize that keeping their opinions to themselves can, at times, be crucial. In order to avoid situations like this, it is necessary to understand that respect is not given in places that it is not received. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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