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I Was A Sand N*****

With all of the news and events going on today, it reminded me of my first experience realizing I was different from other "Americans".

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Recently, with all of the election news and comments from friends, the news, school etc., I've really been thinking about how minorities are perceived and my own personal experiences.

My first experience was when I had just moved to a new state and started in 5th grade in a school that was basically all white. It was the first week and a group of boys came up to me and called me a sand n*****.

Being so young, I didn't quite understand what it meant, but I knew it was an insult. I just remember being mute and saying nothing, just walking away from them, mostly because I wasn't sure what a good response would be.

When I got home from school, I researched what that word was. When I found out it was a racial slur for Arabic people, I was confused. Why would they call me that? I'm not Arabic, I thought it was obvious. That's when it hit me that it doesn't matter what I actually am. People will categorize me however they want, even if it is an entirely different ethnicity or race.

I was as "American" as they were. I grew up in New York, then my parents moved us down south. I had never been out of the country, nor did I speak a second language. I did have some knowledge of the Indian and Guyanese culture, but I never really brought that out in school. I was more or less, as American as those boys.

The only difference was how I looked. My brown skin, my unusually long, dark hair, the hair on my arms, all separated me and othered me from everyone else.

I remember wishing that I was someone else. I remember thinking how easy life would be being blonde, light-skinned, looking like everyone around me, rather than the black sheep.

But now I look back and think about how much I've grown into my skin since then. I love having dark hair and my different cultures. I identify myself as Indo-Guyanese American, and have strong connections to all three. I always find it interesting that when a white person asks me what I am and that's what I say, they always feel like they need to get on equal footing, and respond with something along the lines of "Well, I'm 1/8 Cherokee and on my Grandpa's side, 1/16 German". Pretty laughable.

Many will judge my culture, yet try and claim one that they haven't experienced at all, to try and seem more "worldy" or "ethnic".

I guess the point I'm trying to say is, don't let anyone make you feel ashamed to be who you are, for the way you look, and your culture. I felt that way when I was younger and it makes me so sad to see that young minorities are still going through the same thing. You would think that since it's 2016, something would've changed.

I've seen an increase of ignorant posts since the election and really wanted to share my thoughts. Thank you.

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