Racism, prejudice, sexism and all other types of judgment serve as ingredients in a subjugation of expression and the oppression of individuality.

For the most part, our community warns us about these devices and deters us from ever becoming subject to them. However, as the world is not a perfect place, many people become victims or followers of these tools of confinement.

That's where "We the people" becomes the hero to those who suffer losses at the expense of prejudice. Governmental policies have the power to forcibly make bigotry hide in the shadows and are an important part of the melting pot that comprises America. Being a country of such diversity, and so many cultural differences, it is fundamental to our nature to use law in the name of overcoming cultural, racial and sexual obstacles.

However, this power, exacerbated by the media, has developed victimizing, and overuse has manifested sensitivity to a point where political correctness becomes an irreversible social law.

For example, consider the coming out as LGBT of Michael Sam, a former Missouri defensive end headed into the NFL draft. He has had an incredibly challenging life, with many obstacles to overcome on his way to football fame. His recognition as a football player is undoubtedly the product of his hard work, determination and will to succeed. However, his coming out has overshadowed his accomplishments through his upbringing and his motivation on the field, and been the head story for the upcoming NFL draft.

The attention brought to this issue may be a positive influence for some, but it also boldly establishes a claim that there is still a crippling problem.

Equal opportunities as an American, in reference to jobs, marriage, schooling and ability to make money and do with it what he or she pleases (within the confinement of the law), are a no-brainer. Those should always be granted to citizens of this country. For newly oppressed groups, or seriously hindered prejudices that limit a person's opportunities in America, political and media attention are helpful to emphasize the American ideal of justice and equality. However, after countless propagation and policies to level the opportunistic playing field, the media still labels one man's sexual identity as "breaking news."

Maybe the coverage of stories like Sam's are a response to cultural criticism, itself a response to the fact of human differences. Through the flesh and bones that we all share, we all are different people. Being various in natures, we all learn to criticize one another.

But just like political correctness, criticism is a double-edged sword: useful but detrimental in abundance. It causes self-reflection and strengthens inner confidence when overcome. Where media and policies are the utility for strength in the outside world, overcoming criticism punctures the feeble insults thrown to each individual and can gain respect from others regardless of the prejudicial category one feels imprisoned in.

Victimizing a group of people hinders this important aspect of life that every person must come in acquaintance with. The news may rightfully look down on a bigot who crosses a deleterious line, but it also encourages people to blame the society they live in as the source of their problems. While some problems may be a result of the society, there is no light shown on the cure. If one learns to overcome their stereotype and the criticism given upon them, then these obstacles become mere hurdles in the overall conquest for an individual's ideal life.

Whether you're black, white, blue, green or are attracted to men or women or both, you will always encounter adversity. We shouldn't shine the light on what makes us different. We shouldn't advertise racism or sexual discrimination through a TV, and we shouldn't blame society for the fact that we are discriminated upon for being different. We should all focus on what makes us all human. Understanding is an important step, but respecting another is not won by blaring news and viral articles. One will receive it by overcoming differences, hurdling life obstacles and learning to love one another. That is what we should advertise.

Cullen Hamelin is a junior in chemistry. He can be reached at chamelin@utk.edu.