Hometown: Marianna, AR
high school: Lee Senior HS
college: College of Notre Dame
In life, we are too often examined, judged, labeled, and then sorted into stereotypes before we can even utter a word to defend ourselves from eyes that only see color. Eyes that see whites, blacks, Mexicans, Arabs, Jews, and Asians but not the character lying under these peoples’ skin. When I was a child, my grandmother was the only white resident in a small black community in my hometown, Marianna, Arkansas. To the majority of that community I was a privileged white child who too often ended up separated from the black children and labeled as an outsider. To the majority of the whites in Marianna, I was just another hopeless black kid undeserving of their attention. I could not go to their homes or play with their children at the parks because to them, I was not white enough.
When I was called different names and labeled a different color different days of my childhood, I grew detached from my community and from myself. A part of me began to resent people because I could not understand them. I wondered why they would treat me like I was different from them. I wondered what made me different, and in that wondering I lost myself. I became unconscious to my own identity. All I knew was that my heart hurt every time I heard the words “white boy” or “black kid.” I was unsure of what those words meant. However, I did know that they were words used to separate me from people. They were the words used to isolate me, and it was by that isolation that I felt truly hurt.
It would have been easy for me to let the pain caused by separation harbor hatred towards other people, for too long in the earlier parts of my life I did, but through God, I felt the joy of being in the presence of people who loved me. Growing up, my aunt has taken me to many churches and in them I have made bonds and friendships with other children and adults. I have always cherished those bonds. It was those bonds that made me feel accepted. For the first few times in my life, I felt like I belonged somewhere. As I grew older, making my way to high school, I realized that true happiness comes from the people I surround myself with, and being alone would only bring about depression. That realization has opened my heart to my community that once deserted me. I have a sincere love for humanity and regardless of whether or not people even care about me, I love them. I believe that I, as a Christian, have one overarching objective in life, to love the world even when it hates me so that maybe I will win a few people to my side, and not have to live in solitude.