Ruby and I walked through the streets of Chico, California.

I was an exchange student and Ruby came from Taiwan. There was a house party happening that we were excited to attend. We talked about all the other events we could go to together while out there. However, what happened later that night is something I am still trying to understand to this day.

A red car slowly passed us and one of the passengers opened the car window. He threw a few white objects toward my direction, yelling “N****r!” His friends laughed – perhaps from their view, he appeared cool or right.

Across the street another black person witnessing the occurrence got yelled at as well. I looked down at the ground and noticed that those white objects were eggs. I had been egged, because of my skin color. A sense of fear and shame overwhelmed me.

I thought to myself, “What if they would return? Are others laughing as well? How can I get away from here as soon as possible?”

Reading Solange’s essay AND DO YOU BELONG? I DO” reminded me the unfortunate event that happened to me back in 2014.

During my childhood and teenage years, I often experienced being treated differently than my peers. Finding a side job was a constant challenge–at some point, I considered removing the headshot from my resume. What I can say is that my experience in that city changed me forever: I didn’t enjoy going out, and when walking outside in the evening, I would avoid passing groups of youngsters. But by the end of that year, I decided to respond how Solange did.

I refused to put myself in a hutch and label myself as solely a skin color.

I am more than a gorgeous build-up of melanin. Like everyone else, I am a person. I have emotions, achievements, and abilities. I started surrounding myself with friends who did not choose to label me by color, either.

In reflection, I asked myself, “Why am I doing this to myself? Why am I being hard to myself based on my skin color?”

You can walk on water and someone will still try to find a reason to bring you down. Whether it is based on your skin color, your personality, or even your family, people will seek out ways to make you feel bad for your differences, or try to take away from the things you cherish most. Just remember that those people are ignorant; many of them have been raised with the belief that they are superior to others simply because of their skin color. It is not your fault that they choose to live in a bubble while time continues to evolve.

Globalization urges professionals to negotiate with other cultures. Based on my experience, I still believe every student needs to study abroad. You simply cannot succeed when you are close-minded. Those who manage to do so will certainly face some life-changing moments to change their mind eventually – because, like Solange, there will be someone who will choose to speak up against their incorrect beliefs.

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