Take Me As I Am

Jose - Chesapeake, Virginia
Entered on December 8, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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This I Believe: Take Me As I Am

When someone asks you “what are you?” what do you say? You usually do not have a person say they are human, which, to me, is the real answer to the question. It is very difficult to pick one nationality and tell you that is what I am because my family is multiracial. I have been stereotyped, judged and ridiculed for they way I look and act, and I have come to terms with the fact that I am different from everyone else.

From the time I was in elementary school, I would remember students always asking me what racial group I belonged to. It was hard to pick an identifiable one, so I told them I was Hispanic. Unbeknownst to people, my mom is Asian and my dad is African-American. I was going by what people thought I looked like rather than what I really was.

For all of my life, I lived in America. However, there was one summer that I had a culture shock, and it really opened my eyes to what other cultures thought of me. In 2001, I spent the summer in the Philippines. When I went there I was treated like royalty. When the kids there would ask me about myself, they only asked me what I liked to do. They did not care what color I was. They just cared that I was from America and wanted to learn more about my culture, rather than judge it. In turn, I learned and adopted some of their culture as well. I learned how to always highly respect elders. I also learned to share because they shared with me what little they had. They ate with their hands, which was a custom I could not bring home! In America, no one ever tried to learn about my culture.

In high school, it was hard to find friends. Surprisingly, people segregated themselves in high school. Since I could not make friends by just the way I looked, I immersed myself in talent. I was determined not to be friends with one racial crowd, because I wanted to be friends with all. Hence, that was the day I joined the school choir. I walked in there not knowing anything about music. The choir really taught me so much about singing and motivated me to win talent shows. I sang a song “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon 5, which was something that no one would have ever thought I would sing. They stereotypically thought I would sing a Spanish song. I got a standing ovation from all races and it felt liberating. For that moment, I could bring people together enjoy something without racial barriers.

Now that I am in college, no one really cares what I look like. I have learned through all my experience never to judge someone by how they look. They could be a really cool person inside.