To celebrate Human Relations Month, the Orange County Human Relations Commission sponsors an annual student essay contest. In order to have good human relations, we as a community need to accept and appreciate each other's differences and treat each other as equals. This year we asked high school students "What is the most significant issue of civil and human rights in our country and community today?" We asked middle school students to write on "The importance of building bridges with other cultures."The Chapel Hill News will run excerpts from the winning high school essays today and the middle school essays next week.
Title: All human rights, By Antonia Cortes
First place, Orange High School
Racism happens to me every day since I moved to Orange; it happens in school, stores, parks, and even sometimes in my neighborhood; and I don't know if I should start getting used to it or do something about it. I'm Hispanic and I really hate that people treat me different because of my tan skin and the way I talk. I think that people should give Hispanic students an opportunity to do something good with their lives; that's why I support "The Dream Act."The "Dream Act" is a national bill that would allow undocumented young people to legalize their immigrant status and to pursue education past high school. It would apply to illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who came to the United States before they were 16, have lived here for at least five years, graduated from a U.S. high school, and stayed out of trouble. I support this bill because many young children are brought to this country every year and live almost their entire lives here, and because they don't have papers they face limited prospects for completing their education and working legally in the United States.I really support the Dream Act because maybe one day I'm going to have to use it to help me follow my dreams and to get what I want in my life. My mother always tells me to do something good with my life and to progress more than she did because she would like to see me in a better position than what she's in right now. I really would like to make her happy and proud of me. I do my best in school because of her and my family, and I really want to make them proud.
Title: We're all equal -- somos iguales, By Kelcie Buchanan
Second place, Orange High School
We are all equal. I think everyone should respect one another because inside we are all the same. Nobody should be treated differently in life because we are all people who have lives and families who love and care just the same.In the year 2008, racial disparity is still visible in our society in the following ways: dropout profiles in schools, prison profiles, ghetto life, increasing violence, gangs, and most of all poverty. Some of these victims have changed their lives. They have gotten themselves out of their hardships and proven to others that they can change. If we all set goals for ourselves and succeed at them it will get the process of correcting racial inequality moving faster. The next generation will see that we all have something we need to do regarding what people say and how people treat each other.If we all could step back for one day, we could see that everyone looks at someone differently; no one thinks the same about one another. The kids at school always make fun of the 'nerdy' white person, or no one likes the quiet Hispanic in the corner, and everyone is 'scared' of the blacks. So, what do you do?Some people ignore everything and think nothing will change so there's no reason to try. Others know that there is more to life than just fussing with the different races. We realize the hurt and the problems others go through because of their distress.Working for change is like believing in everyone's potential, knowing that we all have a chance to put our "two cents in." We all need to change and give a little. It takes a lot of time to change, and if one person changes it will inspire others to do the same. .
Title: Human rights: Right to be equal, By Garrett Crawford
Third place, Orange High School
A big issue happening around the world is prejudice. A lot of people are racist against people of different colors. It is not fair not to like someone just because their skin is a different than yours. People may not get a job that they want just because they have a skin color different from other people. They may not get equal pay just because their skin color is different. This is a big issue, and I'm going to do my best in my community to stop it.When someone does not hire another ethnicity just because they are different it is despicable. It's hard to believe that it's happening right in my town, too. Some construction companies will pay Mexican people less just because they don't know the pay they should be getting. I know from working with a construction company that they work a lot harder than anyone else. I wish that everything could just be settled and that there would be no more problems in the United States. If we work together to stop this issue, the whole world will be a better place. We can have groups get together and protest against what we think is wrong and speak out for what is right. It's not fair that the law is saying one thing and people are doing the opposite and not getting in trouble This is a huge issue all around the United States that has to come to a halt. Together, as one, we can make this end.