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Learning from Pizza Hut

06/27/11 5:00AM

This week's Young Writers Project piece was written by Justin Souvanh, a 7th grader at Brattleboro Area Middle School. Justin's piece is about a small act - being handed a set of chopsticks to eat pizza of all things - made him feel angry at being stereotyped but how, after much thought and many hours of writing, he realized that his best response should be forgiveness. For more great student writing go to youngwritersproject.org


My legs felt like they were about to collapse after walking up and down the streets of China Town. All I wanted was to relax and get a bite to eat, possibly Italian. The smell of melting cheese was in the air and led me into a decent restaurant around the corner called Pizza Hut. By this point my mouth was watery and my hand was half way in my pocket reaching for my wallet. I had nothing but happy thoughts, I thought that nothing could bring me down.... until the employees at the restaurant gave me chopsticks, that's right chopsticks. That ruined my whole day and appetite. At first I thought it was a joke, but when I looked around the place and saw that the only people being handed chopsticks were Asian, I became upset. I mean that's so ignorant of them thinking that all Asians know how to use chopsticks. It may sound ridiculous but even a small stereotypical gesture can go a long way to offend people. That's why I don't like Pizza Hut anymore.

Stereotypes are another way of judging people negatively based on very small inaccurate information that might not apply to everyone of that race or culture. Sometimes stereotypes are funny, and sometimes they're not. Sometimes they're true, and sometimes they're racist and hurtful. But it happens to everyone at least once in their life. I admit that before my encounter with Pizza Hut I would embrace stereotypes and make secret remarks about people and keep them to myself. But now I know that it's wrong to judge people before you get to know them even if you keep it a secret.

Prejudiced people are everywhere, but they might not even know it. Even the most unexpected people are prejudiced, like adults, your closest friends, or maybe even you. Even I didn't realize that I was being negative before Pizza Hut came along. Unintentional or intentional it's no excuse because it still hurts. Even laughing at the "joke" someone else makes hurts because in your mind you think that person is agreeing with the negative comment. This is called being a bystander. I know Pizza Hut wasn't trying to offend me or Asians all around the world but that's one of the small things that can offend people. That's why I believe that people should think about what they say or do before they do it. Like when you are frustrated with a peer.

The more I think about it the more I realize that forgiveness is the only solution, not revenge. I believe that when you're knocked down you should just get back up without continuing the fight. I forgive Pizza Hut and all of the people that have teased me about my race. Instead of making me upset and afraid they have made me learn to never make the mistake they made by judging other people. Besides, Pizza Hut does sell pretty good pizzas.

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