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Photo by Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Miss America is more beautiful than you

by Jason Benoit, Esq.

Stop being racist.

I didn’t watch the Miss America competition. I could say that, as a man, that I should have. Not to hoot and holler at girls in bikinis. Not to laugh when one of them stumbles when asked a basic geography question, or stumbles in her six-inch stilletos. But to champion a scholarship program with tradition. To champion women. And maybe more importantly, to champion the crowning of the first woman of Indian descent as Miss America.

But instead what happened was the most typical response that could have been expected. The literal alley trash that is the Internet decided to rear their racist, bigoted, hate-filled, ignorant heads once more.

Surprise, surprise. YouTube comment sections are filled with the literal filth of the Internet. As though being seemingly anonymous online gives you permission to spew your message of hate. As though your unwarranted, rampant racism is so important that we must all be forced to tarnish something beautiful with something so very ugly just because you think your crap don’t smell.

I’ve written about this previously in regards to casting in films. There aren’t many things that upset me more greatly than blatant racism. The saddest part is that most of them probably don’t even have a strong enough education or home base to understand that what they’re doing and saying is just pure trash.

This past Sunday, The Newsroom had a great line from its lead character that I think bears repeating here:

“No, I call myself a Republican because I am one. I believe in market solutions and I believe in common sense realities and necessity to defend itself against a dangerous world. The problem is now I have to be homophobic. I have to count the number of times people go to church. I have to deny facts and think scientific research is a long con. I have to think poor people are getting a sweet ride. And I have to have such a stunning inferiority complex that I fear education and intellect in the 21st Century. Most of all, the biggest new requirement -– the only requirement -– is that I have to hate Democrats.”

Now, I’m neither a Republican (former Texan convert here) nor is this about politics (at least not in its most linear sense). But I think the words expressed in that quote are important – important when you color it against the generalities of prejudice. Because that is a reflection of our culture today.

And I’m saddened to live in a world where Buzzfeed has to put on blast the Twitter trash. Because it only spurs more backlash and more hate. A hashtag eye for an eye.

I’m saddened to think that my sister, who married a proud, loving, supportive black man herself might be confronted by people of this ilk. It sickens me to think of the abuse that she or her husband might face. God forbid what might happen if one day they decide to have a child together. That’s not something they should have to take into consideration. You shouldn’t have to stop and consider if the world might fling their ignorance and hate just because the union of two people of different races decided to reproduce.

That’s not the America I want to live in. That’s not a country built on freedom from oppression. That is, in fact, the direct definition of oppression.

I feel like Howard Beale.

Why must this conversation persist? Why do we incessantly have to drudge up these headlines? Why can’t we live in a world where people just go about their own lives and stop feeling the need to oppress others? Are we that petty a class of people?

I didn’t come to Hollywood to change the world. I didn’t come here to force feed my own personal agenda onto a mass market. But now that I’m here I’m beginning to fear that the only way to make a difference is to shove my views down your throat. Because subtlety isn’t working.

Stop being racist. Stop hate-criming people. Stop raping women. Stop Internet trolling innocent people. Stop being uneducated goobers. Stop mass shooting civilians in their place of business or education.

Hate perpetrates hate. Ignorance breeds more ignorance. And it is the pockmark on our society and our history and until we demand positive change as a society we will be no better than anyone who came before us. In fact, in many ways, we are much worse because we can see their history — their actions — and yet we continue down this path of intolerance.

Buy a history book and go learn something about the birth of this country. About how this land was acquired, how this government was formed, and what your ideology really means. Being white does not make you a true American, just as being of Indian descent does not make you unAmerican.

One misplaced martyr does not make an entire culture of people an enemy. It’s only if we speak loud, speak proud, and speak without fear of those who oppose us that we can and will eventually gain incremental change.

We should be that voice in Hollywood. We should be that constant badgering.

I’m doing it for my sister. For her husband. For my uncle. For his husband. For my unborn nephew. For my gay and lesbian friends who continue to live in a world filled with prosecution by false prophets and unaccredited prosecutors.

Stop being racists. It’s really as simple as that.

It really is.

Jason Benoit, Esq.

About Jason Benoit, Esq.

Jason Benoit is a young screenwriter based in Los Angeles, California. He has developed projects in both film and television with producers around town. He was reared on Cheetos and nightly doses of Tylenol PM and is adamant about attaching the suffix Esquire to his name. We've agreed to humor his request. Follow him on Twitter @jbenoitfilm

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