Kids Issue 2018: Ignorance isn’t bliss

SELF-PORTRAIT: Serenity Lewis, an eighth-grader at Evergreen Community Charter School, painted this self-portrait accompanied by an inspiring quote.

Editor’s note: This essay and artwork are part of a series of posts from Part I of Xpress’ annual Kids Issue, which features the art and writing of local K-12 students. This year, we asked kids and teens to address the theme of “Let’s fix it!”

One of the biggest problems I see is ignorance. Ignorance is everywhere. We go to school so we can not be ignorant, bookwise. We hardly have anything outside of school that will stop us from not being ignorant when it comes to world smarts.

We live in a world where there are always new things to learn, and I don’t think you can ever learn everything, unless you are a robot. That said, a theme I have heard before is “ignorance is bliss,” but the truth is, it’s not, and people suffer from ignorance every day.

Stereotypes, bigotry and prejudice are all a type of ignorance, and I refuse to accept these as any form of bliss. A stereotype is a widely held, but fixed, and oversimplified view of a particular type of person. Stereotypes form because of ignorance. People don’t like what they don’t know, and dislike turns into hate.

The school systems don’t encourage discussion about things under the blanket of ignorance, and one of those things is race. We need to dig deeper into race-related issues to educate people on how the stereotypes and preconceptions are not true. We can educate ignorance in many ways if we are willing to make ourselves uncomfortable. The whole aspect of people being uncomfortable talking about a serious issue, in this case, ignorance, is preventing people from learning.

We have “reproductive health” lessons to encourage abstinence, educate us on sex and suggest finishing school before having children. Why not treat ignorance the same way? It is just as important in shaping our decisions in adulthood. Coming from a student, sex ed class is uncomfortable, but we listen to those conversations, so why can’t we do the same for issues of societal ignorance?

Being book smart is different than being world smart. You can be the smartest kid ever and only know about what you see at school and on the news. That’s why we should try harder to eliminate degrading stereotypes and minimize ignorance by educating people, working through uncomfortable issues and encouraging everybody to be their best person all of the time.

— Essence Copeland
Eighth grade
A.C. Reynolds Middle School

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