Born in a country filled with racism

By Andre Flores  |   From : Cuba / Nicaragua / Latino  |   School : Plantation High School

I do not remember the exact dates of when it all happened, but I remember the events like it was yesterday. Being born in a country that is filled with racism is hard. People expect you to act a certain way and be of the same religion or ethnicity and people are shunned because they are different. That’s what happened to me for quite some time. Back when I was in elementary and middle school, I was always treated differently by the people around me for being Latino. People would call me names, degrade me, sometimes they would push me around and hit me. It was rough growing up in a neighborhood that didn’t want you in it. 

When I was 5 years old, my mom decided to separate me from my dad and did not allow me to communicate with him and it hurt. I felt torn apart, like if I had to choose a side. Am I Cuban or am I Nicaraguan? That was the question that I had to ask myself every day. I still have not answered that question to this day because I feel like I will disappoint one of my parents by choosing a side. Not having a father really took a toll on me. I always wanted to cry and break down and scream, but growing up, if people saw that, they would take advantage of it. I had to learn how to suppress my emotions from everyone so no one would take advantage of me. I was vulnerable, weak and depressed. About 2 years later, most of my family on my dad’s side were deported and sent back to Nicaragua. At the time, I thought my dad was also deported. It was devastating for me, since I couldn’t communicate with any of them. I felt intense pain when this happened. I also felt scared for my family on my mom’s side. What if they were to be deported next? I would always tremble at the thought of it. “What would happen to me if everyone in my family was deported?” “How would I live without my family?” All of this was running through my head and it destroyed me mentally.  

About 3 years later, I found out that my dad was not deported. I saw one of my mom’s friends post a picture of her with my dad on Facebook. I asked my mom to let me speak with him as soon as I found out. It really helped me when she said yes, but only because she saw how destroyed I was. Being able to communicate with my dad made it easier for me to communicate with other people. Suddenly, it was easier for me to embrace the fact that I am Latino. I felt more attached to the part of me that was lost long ago because I finally had a father figure in my life. People still treated me differently because I am Latino, but I pay no mind to it now. In the future, I hope to answer the question that I have yet to answer and I hope that people of all races and ethnicities can be accepted in this world. My name is Andre and I am proud to be a Latino. 

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