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I was born in America. I live in America. I am an American. Yet, for some reason, the caramel color of my skin defines me. I have American friends. My American friends live in America. My American friends were born in America, yet their dark chocolate skin defines them. None of us are asking for pity or for others to be ashamed, but we would like for people to take a step back and appreciate us for who we are. In America, there are illegal immigration issues on the Mexican boarders, so Mexicans are targeted.

I am a half white, half Mexican girl. I was born in Arizona on June 28, 2006. I have a tan skin tone. My mother doesn’t; she has some of the whitest skin of all. She was born in a small town in Texas called Troop and is half English and half German. Her mother came to America legally and then fell in love and married her dad, who was born in America. My mom is as American as one could get, and so is my dad.

Wanting a better life, my dad’s parents came to America legally and started a family. My dad was born in San Diego, California, and lived there all his life until he met my mom. After falling in love, my parents married and started a family. A year later, I was born.

My parents described me as a beautiful baby with caramel-colored skin. I had dark chocolate eyes and hair as dark as the night sky. As I grew up, I didn’t think about the color of my skin or that it was different from others. All of my life, people told me how much they wanted my skin tone and how I was so lucky; I thought I was lucky, too, until I got to middle school.

I read so many books and watched so many movies about middle school. Nevertheless, it was nothing like I expected. In middle school, kids start to have minds and opinions of their own about what’s right and wrong. Skin tone was a big topic. I moved to Florida and experienced a new school and a new life all at the same time. Suddenly on the first day of school, I was asked if I had my green card by an eighth-grader. Remember, I was in 6th grade; I didn’t know what in the world they were talking about. Sixth grade wasn’t horrible, but when I moved schools again and entered 7th, it was a whole different story.

Don’t get me wrong. This school has many nice people; they just don’t realize that what they’re saying can be offensive. It was the occasional, “What did you pack for lunch? Rice and Beans?” That remark may not seem like a big deal, but it was to me. You may be thinking, “So! Just move on with your life, who cares?” But, I wasn’t as strong at the time and continued to let people walk all over me, and I just laughed along with them when they said things like, “Is your Mom a maid? Just kidding... just kidding.” Although I laughed, deep down, it was upsetting.

When I reached the 8th grade, I realized that I did not want to accept these comments even if they were intended to be a joke. I realized that I could stand up for myself; I wasn’t going to let people disrespect my culture anymore.

It doesn’t matter whether you are Mexican, Chinese, Nigerian, or English. Everyone is unique. People should not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the person they truly are, inside and out.

© Scarlett Chavez. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.

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