They Are Just Words

Jonathan Campos is a creative person. He is an amazing musician; he plays the guitar and writes his own metal and rock music. In addition to music, Jonathan also loves to skateboard. He is nineteen years old and was born and raised in San Francisco, California. He lives with both of his parents and his younger brother, Rogelio Campos. When Jonathan was younger, he made efforts to become friends with a lot of different types of people. As Jonathan got older, he found his friend circle closing. He began to look for people that had the same interests and background as him. I interviewed Jonathan in our living room with the T.V. playing in the background. We were surrounded by family pictures and Compton’s Most Wanted’s “Late Night Hype” playing in the background. It was awkward because he has never been interviewed about racism by his brother, Rogelio. It didn’t feel like they were brothers… it felt like they just met.

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Jonathan likes to skateboard and play guitar with his free time because it keeps him busy and it’s what he likes to do. He has a complicated issue with race. From an early age, Jonathan was given a lot of definitions of America and equality. As he grew older, he still didn’t have one exact definition for both of those words. Then, he noticed that all of the definitions he was given were the opposite of what was going on in reality, in the present, and in the past. Jonathan was told that America was a place where he could fulfill his dreams, but in reality, a lot of people in America cannot fulfill their dream due to the way they look. They never told Jonathan that America would judge him on his skin color. The way people described equality was having the rights other people do and being able to do what others do without being judged. But in reality, he sees no equality in America. He sees people of color being discriminated and killed for no reason at all.

The first time Jonathan was judged because of the way he looked, it impacted him very much. He felt very confused because he thought he was supposed to be treated the same as others. He dealt with it by ignoring it. He made the choice not to pay attention to other people’s opinions about him because “they are just words,” he said. He didn’t care about knowing that he was different. He began to notice that America was becoming worse and worse each day. Jonathan noticed that people of color were being killed, so because Jonathan is a person of color, he is scared that he will be targeted and killed. America wasn’t the way people described it in school.

As he got older, he didn’t care about being judged. After feeling constant discrimination, he began to feel that, “Words really don’t hurt [me.]” They just show him that people are ignorant. Jonathan feels that people judge a person without knowing anything about them, which is like judging a book by its cover. He began to expect that, because of his brown skin, he was going to be treated differently than others. “Knowing that America was the land of free and brave” made him think he’d have equality, just like others, but he doesn’t feel like he’s treated that way.

Race has impacted Jonathan in many ways during his life. He said he doesn’t look white, so it will be hard for him to get “well-paid jobs” now and in the future. He thinks racism will get worse in America because “people are either arrested or killed for no reason, especially colored people.” He thinks people try to stop racism by having a lot of schools and creating movements to try and
stop racism.

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This interview helped me learn a lot about my brother, because I didn’t know he paid attention to what was going on in America. This interview made my “brothership” weird because my brother and I have never spoken so seriously about a specific topic. I also learned that he is afraid of being the next victim when he sees cops! I also worry about this, but not as much as he does. I have cops giving me dirty looks, but that happens only every once in a while. Overall, I think this project was awkward but useful because I got to know things about him that I never knew he actually paid attention to. I got to know how he felt about society. What I enjoyed about this interview was getting to know what my brother was thinking, because he usually doesn’t tell me what he thinks about society.

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