I have been around. My time in the Navy required that I do a prodigious amount of traveling around Asia. During my travels I met people from all over the world and walks of life, but surprisingly the greatest diversity came from the 5,000 souls that resided within the floating city that was the USS Kitty Hawk.
I grew up in Montana where there really isn’t much variation in the population of people (though this is changing). Most of my exposure to people of different ethnicities and racial backgrounds primarily came from stereotypes and various forms of popular media. When I began my three years of service on the Kitty Hawk, I felt a little apprehensive about how I should behave around each little group of people I wasn’t familiar with. I quickly learned that this was not necessary.
When you live with people for an extended period of time and have no choice but to interact, soon any sort of barriers that may have set you apart begin to melt away. They are no longer “blacks” or “asians” or whatever. They are just people. I found that if I tried to behave in a special way around one group or another, I identified myself as an outsider and also came off a little strange. People pick up on this sort of thing. Best to just be yourself and treat strangers as you would anyone else and soon you will find that, for the most part, you will be accepted.
I did find it interesting, however, that certain ethnic and racial groups tended to dominate a specific job. For example, the cooks (also known as CS) tended to be Filipino and officers seemed to be primarily tall white men. Just looking at this one might draw the conclusion that there is a form of unspoken segregation, or even worse that there may be some connection between race and competency. Neither of these scenarios is true. These sorts of differences mainly arise from education levels within the populations that the people come from. Many choose the military as a means to acquire an education and a skill or even to acquire a US citizenship. I have met many a Filipino CS that I found to be hard working and deeply insightful, and several officers that perhaps shouldn’t have been in command.
If there is one thing my time in the Navy has taught me, it is that no matter where you go, people are essentially the same. Sure we may have our own customs, languages, and personalities but ultimately we all want to be treated fairly and with respect. In order for this to happen, we need to be able to look past petty things like where we happened to be born, the color of our skin, gender, and even social status. We just need to accept that we are all people and it is our duty to uplift each other and work towards the betterment of all human kind.