Being a minority can be difficult. As a Filipino-American living in Petaluma, I am a minority in every sense of the word. Petaluma is predominantly caucasian and chances are you won't run into many Filipinos walking down the street. What this means is that, like any minority, I am subject to racial stereotyping.

It's no secret that racial discrimination is still out there today. While segregation has been illegal for years, discrimination is still prevalent in today's society. I've never been in a situation where I would consider myself being harshly discriminated against. Yes, I've been the subject of racial jokes, but not to the extent where I felt as if my friends actually despised me for my race. For some, these jokes can be harmful and hurtful, creating a sense of helplessness and worthlessness. As much as we try, we cannot change where we come from.

I have realized that being a minority has given me a different perspective on life. It has taught me that we should be careful to judge people based on stereotypes because no one is the same. Often, we are quick to judge based on our assumptions, I believe being a minority has helped me look past these judgments. It is up to us to discover the common ground between races. It is up to us to discover that we are not as different as it may seem. I have friends from a variety of different cultures. Our similarities outweigh our differences, and our different backgrounds allow us to expand our views and our ideas of who we are as people.

I love being Filipino. I love being a minority for that matter. I am proud of my culture and would not change it for a second. Being a Filipino means being a little different, and I am completely okay with that. It means that my family laughs a lot and tends to be louder than most. It means that my family eats good food and respects one another. It means that my skin is darker and my face is rounder. I understand that being a minority can be difficult for some people, but I see it as a privilege. I see it as a chance to prove that race should not be a barrier. Being a minority gives me the chance to show my friends and peers that we are all human. We are born with certain things we cannot change. The jokes don't really offend me because I accept my heritage and accept my family. I am who I am. I am Filipino and proud.

(Ryan Santos is a senior at Casa Grande High. He is 17 years old.)