David - Fenton, Michigan
Entered on April 11, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: tolerance

I believe in mohawks. By making those around me stare as I spike my hair a towering eighteen inches on top of my head, by adding any and all colors, I create a flashing fluorescent neon sign that proclaims louder than any voice that I am not like others—I am unique.

My mohawk is indicative to a succession of choices I’ve made concerning my appearance. I tattoo my body with symbols of belief, devotion, emotion, love, peace, music, memories, and rebellion. My parents incessantly ask me why I deface the naturalness of my body. And it’s not only my parents that ponder the roots of my appearance. Relatives, friends, and even complete strangers confront me in all types of settings: the street, at school and work—everywhere. They want to know why and how I am willing to put up with so much ridicule. I can see where they’re coming from. I tell them that by adding this color to my skin, I become one with all colors of the world —I paradoxically become a part of all persons while simultaneously separating myself from the herd.

I’ve been damned by the religious, spit on, punched, and kicked by my peers all because they disagree with my look and what they think it stands for. My clothes attract a negative attention because they do not coincide with my future career—teaching English. I’ve been stared at, whispered about, shouted at, pointed to, given the finger, and laughed at in reaction to my appearance. To these people I am a criminal—a delinquent that must have dropped out of school because of my addiction to drugs and/or alcohol. People cross the street when they see me coming in order to walk along the opposite sidewalk. Wives and girlfriends have clung to their husbands and boyfriends as I pass by. Parents act as a body shield to their children in order to keep them from my sight and theirs from me. Apparently I’m going to hurt, mug, or kidnap them. Apparently I’m dangerous…

I don’t choose to look the way I do to scare people off. I do it to show the world that an individual can be different while still being moral and just.

What if I told you that I’m an outspoken pacifist; that every time I’m hit I never retaliate? But the spikes on my jacket mean I carry a knife in my pocket and a gun tucked snuggly in the waist of my pants. What if I told you that I’m a volunteer, a mentor and that I work with underprivileged children in my free time in order to give them better opportunities than they have? But people don’t take the time to find out about Jesse, Destiny, Margarito, Skylar, or any of the other children that have touched my heart. Unfortunately, people can’t see beyond my mohawk. My hair shouldn’t matter. And therein lays the reason why I will always believe in mohawks.