They say talking is easier than writing, but my mouth is glued shut after months of complete silence.
So let me write you a story.
There was once a young girl who loved drawing. She was a talented artist, yet her self-portraits always seemed odd. It went farther than the spindly arms and lumpy body - the figure, with its paper-white skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair, simplydid not look like her.
But she didn’t care.
White was better.
From a young age, her parents had preached that success would lead to happiness. And when everyone successful seemingly belonged to a particular race, then it was logical to assume that being that race was the ultimate goal. Maybe if she was white, Emily would finally play with her instead of calling her ugly.
As the years went on, the girl's self-portraits became a way of life. Even at night, when she was freed from the clutches of a judgemental society, she slipped into dreams of a prettier, smarter, and more popular version of herself - who just so happened to be white.
Later, in middle school, her suffocating perfectionism morphed into an eating disorder. It was yetanother desperate attempt to meet an extremely narrow beauty standard, but this time it left her more broken and confused than she had ever been.
That girl was me. I vainly hoped that one day someone would acknowledge America’s ugly truth, but instead, I grew up being taught this was the land of opportunities and freedom. It was easier to believe those lies when I didn’t understand the hateful words spewing from adults’ mouths.
Yet as I grew older, I eventually learned my place in the social hierarchy. I learned that no matter my background, I would always be labeled an outsider. I learned that I was forced to live up to the model minority stereotype - or I'd be mistaken for a terrorist.
But, inevitably, I got curious. Why did things have to be this way?
Then, buried under countless layers of deception and bias, I found my answer: racism. It was there waiting for me to find the truth had I only challenged myself to ask the question earlier.
And when I looked closer, I was shocked at just ingrained it was into my own ideologies. Yet when there have been centuries of widespread reform, how come it remains so deeply entrenched within our society?
Racism is the world's most infectious and twisted disease. It slices through my beliefs like a dull, aching knife that leaves behind permanent scars. I feel its symptoms in my chest, like a wide, gaping hole that festers in the dark. It's uncomfortable to acknowledge how deep-seated racism exists, even within myself. But it relentlessly persists, and sadly, no one is immune.
Yet, over the past few months, I've noticed a sudden and monumental overhaul. Not only has the public at large come to identify their prejudices, but they've also re-evaluated their examination. Instead of simply accepting systemic racism, a massive community has gathered together to dissolve the very divisions that define our lives. Despite their unique circumstances and differences, they risk everything to stand up together against the looming behemoth of racism.
It's all too easy to lose hope amidst such troubling times. Yet the actions of these selfless people never fail to motivate me. If anything they've reminded me that change, however stubborn it can be, is possible - it just starts from within.
an Inspired Believer
A new self-portrait hangs above on the wall. In this one, I finally see a girl for who she truly is - strong, independent, and unafraid to take on the world.
Racism, you’ve already taken so many years from me. I’m not willing to sacrifice anymore for your cruel enjoyment.