What would you do? – Something about History and Discrimination

I just came home from the movies after watching “12 Years a Slave” and I am still completely touched. I am sad and angry and disgusted because of the cruelty these amazing people had to endure. The movie was absolutely incredible and it makes me truly happy that it was awarded with an Oscar because it deserves nothing less. Not only for the movie itself but for the story and for remembering the past. I am pretty sure that there are sill many people unaware of the things that happened many years ago. Books and movies are important mediums to teach and these happenings have to be addressed in order to learn from them and be aware of them. It made me cry really bad, although I knew what would be shown to me. I have thoroughly studied the history of the United States and I think that knowing a lot about slavery made watching the movie even worse for me. A movie can never completely capture everything. It often tells the story of a certain person from his or her point of view. In this case, it is the unbelievable story of Solomon Northup, which is not so unbelievable when you know a little about the times of slavery. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not an expert. Nobody is, unless you actually went through all of it. Everyone else can only watch and listen but never entirely feel what these people had to endure.

Learning about history often makes me very angry. I wanted to jump through the screen and punch somebody for being so icredibly dehumanizng. And still, I cannot say for sure what these terrible people were. Stupid? Intolerant? Smart? I watched this movie and felt ashamed for being white. How dare someone decide that white is better? That white means good? That white means being God’s child? How dare someone use passages from the bible to justify their actions? How dare someone claim to live accordingly to the Declarations of Independence where it is written that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”  and then treat other human beings like animals? It is something that I will never be able to understand because for me, tolerance is one of the most important traits a person can have. But here comes the question.


I am lucky to grow up in the 21st century where I can be independent and individual. I belong to a generation that should be thankful for every person who has paved the way for me to live the way I do. We often take everything for granted and forget that there is a history in every country. And we should not forget that the world still isn’t perfect, as well. There is so much cruelty going on around the globe that I sometimes think that many people still haven’t realized that it is the 21st century. I feel that some countries are even moving backwards and return to old patterns. I am German and I have been asked by people from other countries about what I think of Hitler and the Nazi regime. What do I think? I am shocked and angry and disgusted in the same way that I am now, after watching the movie. I can’t believe what people are able to do, when they are full of hate. But it is the same problem almost everywhere in the world: INTOLERANCE! Slavery mainly punished and killed African-Americans. The Holocaust mainly punished and killed Jews. Civil Wars punish and kill their own people. And why? There are often several factors that lead to a war, to societal circumstances or highly brutal time periods, but in most cases, intolerance is the most significant factor. And misinformation. Greed. Envy. And again I ask:


I am in a good position. I can write freely about whatever I want and spread my opinion all around the world. And of course, it is easy to point your finger at someone who has done horrible things. But I was not there. I am not allowed to judge. I can judge the initiator and maybe the first few people who followed. But then? What would I have done? My life against the life of an African-American? I don’t know. My life against a Jew? I don’t know. My life against any other person somewhere in the world? I don’t know. Would I have been brave enough to risk my life? I would like to think that I would have been, but I can never be sure. Yes, today I stand up for people who are discriminated for whatever reason. But today, I don’t necessarily get killed for it. However, I know that the world is not perfect and that there are places were I would get killed for standing up. I can’t be sure that nothing will ever happen to me in my own country, when I stand up for someone or something. People might even attack me for writing this post. But right now, I decide not to look away.


Discrimination is still a major problem all around the world and when we think about it, it is so easy to judge. We have all done it. Discriminate someone for the wrong shoes, the wrong hair, the wrong way of talking. But I feel that it is important to be aware of the fact that it is not ok. Even if everyone is doing it, it still isn’t. Who can tell if history will make a comeback or not? It has been shown often enough that if there is one person with a bad determination, he will find others who support him. That is how it always starts. An idea – as simple as that! I would like to believe that we are safe, but we’re not and we will never be. Movies like “12 Years a Slave” make me think about this and never make me forget. They will always make me angry, but I don’t know on whose side I would have been. When you are taught that this is the right and only way? When you don’t know any better? It is easy to think that there is always a choice and that you just have to make the right one.


I can only say that people should stop hating others for their heritage, their skin color, their lifestyle. We are all human beings and we should not try to eradicate each other. We should learn from the past and the present, and we should stop wanting to feel superior to everyone and everything. When one has powers, use it for something good. Watch movies, read books and educate yourself, before judging. Enjoy your life and let others live theirs.


PS: If you haven’t seen the movie yet, go and watch it!

About haileyjaderyan

⋅ 34 ⋅ a rollercoaster ride ⋅ undateable ⋅ dreamer ⋅ explorer ⋅ disney obsessed ⋅ ♥
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5 Responses to What would you do? – Something about History and Discrimination

  1. ladysmee89 says:

    I wish more people would think like you. Being a victim of racism, being it open or subtle, it’s really a relief to know that there are people like you. My honest opinion: History will repeat. It is already repeating, the media isn’t making us aware of that (with purpose?). Do you actually know what is going on in Burma, for example? I can’t find the article (it was really hard finding it at all), but retelling that story in the article to others made me cry. It shows us that history IS repeating, and we being educated in Germany know how bad it can get…


    • I wish more people would think more like me, too. There is not much that I detest more than racism and every other form of discrimination. Even though, I haven’t had problems with my skin color, I know what it feels like to being judged and discriminated for so many stupid reasons and since I came back from the States as a kid, I had problems being fully accepted as German, because people here thought I was so different and maybe “so American” whatever that is. I never felt completely home in Germany and it’s definitely not a great feeling and therefore, I try not to make anyone feel like that, as well.

      I’m pretty sure that the media holds back a lot of information on purpose. For what reason? Who knows. Therefore, I am even more grateful that I had the chance to go to university and learn about all kinds of different life events and circumstances, positive or not. From FGM to Holocaust, manslaughter in Rwanda, slavery, the aftermath of 9/11 and so much more. It’s not fun but it’s important and I have shed many tears while coming across these tragedies.

      I’ll try to find something about Burma. Thank you for the info. Always interested!


  2. Volker says:

    A double thumbs up for this very realistic perspective. The answer to the question “What would you do” always depends on the respective situation. There is no universal answer. But any reaction, whether you do something or not, always relies on someones individual attitude. And the latter is heavily dependend on individual education and social circumstances.


  3. Pingback: An Unimaginable Outcome – Presidential Election 2016 | The Undateable Girl's Diary

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