I’m different. I’ve always been different. But I am not different in the sense that my differences house the merciful ability to react to my once-haunting wishes for them to change.
I am an ambiguous speck of white embodied in the visage of a soon-to-be seventeen-year-old Junior in High school, but I am not black, Caucasian, Asian, or Latin. No, I can’t define myself as something so general, so trivial nowadays, even though one would stamp my forehead with “Caucasian” in bright, hurtful red letters simply because of what country I kicked my way out of the womb into. I categorize myself as an albino.
And I am able to embrace my albinism freely and proudly because I believe in embracing who I am, rather than conforming to societies’ categorical strategy of playing toy crane with the racial fate of every Albino child.
I don’t have to be alone anymore. I don’t believe I do. My albinism is what connects me to those that share my inability to drive well because of my dishearteningly poor vision, my responsibility to wear ample sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses in fear of one day finding myself in the deadly clutches of melanoma, and my inability to find any more than transitory comfort among my own peers due to their lack of acceptance concerning my pale features.
And as of today, those affected by the recessive gene trait that manifests in the form of albinism, a lack of pigmentation, or color, in some and not necessarily all of a person’s physical characteristics, have the ability to break free of their frustration with their desperation to define themselves as a member of their own race, whatever it may be. I feel that Albinos should stand together, fulfilled, as their own race. But just because I emphasize my disposition as the start of an overlooked class of human being doesn’t mean that I don’t embrace myself as an individual; I am my own state, my own country, and my own responsibility.
Today, I no longer force myself to feel alienated and frustrated with my own race for failing to accept me as I am. I’ve always felt different, but I don’t have to anymore. How does my albinism cause me to differ from any other race separated merely by appearances? Blacks and whites? Asians and Latinos? What separates them is nothing more than past history and physicality. But Albino blacks, whites, Latinos, and Asians, we have the choice to be heard. I believe in embracing who I am, but also embracing the” us” that our albinism creates as it strings us together as a people.
Our skin color is different than all other races’, my birth race and others’, and because of this, I, myself, mark Albinism, my differences, as the beginning of a singular house of people. In this identity, I acknowledge Albinism as my religion, my anthem, my declaration of self-discovery, and my religion. I look to it for shelter and understanding in those who share my trait when I cannot find it among those whom society demands I call “brothers” and “sisters” simply because we were raised in the same country.
I used to feel that I was stuck in this body that I couldn’t bring myself to either accept or hate for the line it established between my race and me.
But, I want to be happy with and to embrace who I am, and I yearn for the chance to scream who that person is as loud as I possibly can until the world understands. I want it to know that albinism does not hinder me from being my own person, and that it allows me to connect myself to those I have something more, to me, internally special in common with, rather than being a mutated statistic in an overpopulated racial category. I have a dream and a purpose, and hindering my ability to chase and understand both, is society’s blockade of my struggle towards self-understanding while also being able achieve a sense of belonging.
I believe that albinism can lead me there: to the light I seek and my day in the sun.