I remember being in grade school and kids would try to belittle me because I looked different: “you don’t belong here”, or “you look strange, your color is ugly”. Or events later in my life, on occasion I have just walked down the street and someone has driven by, yelling “Nigger!” out of their window.

As I grow older, I reflect on the effects that “othering” can have on you. It changes the way you perceive yourself. It’s a disturbing situation when someone attempts to strip you of your self-esteem, shaming you, for just being. This feels as though your identity is being rewritten, to fit a mold that makes that person feel more comfortable.

Although I’ve grown up here, many social situations I’ve encountered have revolved around the color of my skin. Conversations that I never initiate, or seek out, but the message is always the same: I am different - I will always stand out.

It’s crucial to come together as a collective, to share these moments. We can motivate each other to achieve our goals, experience unity and comfort, regardless of the obstacles we face.