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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Words Will Always Hurt Me

More stories from Emily Lara

REVIEW: The Sweet Taste
February 24, 2018

The struggle of trying to be a “real American” isn’t as far away as one may think it is.

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A dark mark molds my thoughts of what represents a true American—the one that bleeds red, white and blue and speaks the common language. I always thought of this country as being diverse—a country that lets cultures and religions blend together as one color palette. Although my belief remains the same, my vision of that originality is becoming unclear and blurry. It’s as if people are tearing up the pieces of my identity and setting me up to become someone I’m not. I know what it feels like to be disliked when I have an unknown smell in my lunch bag, and people often walk away when I talk to my parents in a different language. I may just seem like the typical girl who has her whole life figured out, but I break; I break more often than most people may think. I don’t want my weakness to overpower my strengths. I don’t like people knowing that their words get the best of me, but when I’m verbally attacked for my race, I can’t help but let these sentences fill my red, white and green heart.

      “Pack your bags you’re getting deported.”

      “Your parents should be put into concentration camps.”

     “You don’t belong here—leave.”

      I don’t get it. I don’t understand. What sets me apart from others? What makes me less of an American than everyone else? I’ve cried myself to sleep trying to find the answer to this never ending question. But the only answer that could come to mind is “people just don’t like me because..” and it stops there, never getting to complete the sentence. I’ve told myself that maybe people would understand if they knew my whole life story, my testimony, the way I got here and how I got the chance to follow my American dream. My parents sacrificed everything for my siblings and me; they put their lives at risk in order to start down the path of opportunities. A path that took them through tears, doubt and countless questions. Day and night they started forgetting their past—their life in Mexico, when they had nothing in their stomachs but hunger and had to fall asleep on a bed of stone and gravel. They started believing that maybe my siblings and I could have the life that they never got—a life where we can be anyone we want, and a life where we are setup to succeed, not fail.

      I don’t understand how that gives people the right to make fun of me; for being strong, unique and different. For not being scared to show the world where my roots come from.

       I hope one day I can finish the sentence of why I am not a true American, even when my parents left everything behind and fought to be in this country. 

       Yes, I am Hispanic, but I speak English and have the right to be called a true American, just as everyone else does. I don’t deserve to be treated as if I’m not one even if my heart bleeds four colors—red, white, blue and green—instead of the three that so commonly defines the melting pot that is America.

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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Words Will Always Hurt Me