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If I could be any animal in this world, it would be a hermit crab.

Why? To hide from this world— and even from myself.

It sounds moronic for a 14-year-old like me to say that, but I’m almost always afraid to go out in public. When people see that I have colored skin, will they frown at me and turn the other cheek? Will they assume that I’m here illegally? Or will they simply ignore me because it doesn’t concern them?

Whatever they think, it still scares me.

Yet somehow I’m still standing.

Walking in plain sight, where society is watching and waiting to judge you, is quite a journey—especially for my Hispanic kin. Our dark complexion, dark hair and imperfect English make us stick out. For my parents, it is no longer a big deal because they’re so used to it.

For me, though, it pretty much controls my life.

To think that segregation ended not too long ago—and that we’ve only just started sharing this world more closely—is terrifying. I constantly walk around knowing that, behind the smiles, are thoughts of “Ew, Mexicans” or, “They need to go back to their own country.”

I may not hear them, but I know they are there. I myself have witnessed people walk around me or move aside to let me pass—and not out of politeness.

Racism. It’s everywhere, and not everyone can avoid it.

I know I can’t. But, for me, it’s more scary than irking.

School is the only place where I can walk freely without worrying too much. Many kids are accepting and welcoming—something I couldn’t be more grateful for. It’s like a personal heaven for me and my Hispanic peers.

Of course, we’re fully aware that not everyone supports us. But as long as the accepting student majority rules, we feel safer than on the streets of our own hometown.

Still, at the end of the day, I’m just another illegal immigrant—and nothing can change that. The views of me can, though.

But once I reveal myself to the world, they will see with their own eyes that I mean no harm. We only come to find a better future, and we could never be more grateful for what this country has provided.

Until then, we endure a little more hate, hoping that someday they’ll open their eyes a little wider.

Click here to read M. Perez’s “Monarch Butterfly” or here to go back to landing page. 

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