I am very blessed and fortunate to have had the childhood that I had. I feel like that was the most vital part of my life that helped shape me into the person I am today. I had an awesome group of friends that came from various ethnic backgrounds and cultures. Black, Dominican, Italian, Korean, Irish, Puerto Rican… you name it. A large part of the cultural mix that I grew up in had to do with me being involved in so many sports. In addition, credit also goes to the town and area that I grew up in. I’ve really never dealt with the racism and discrimination that I see on social media and television. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard some nasty things and have been treated unfairly a handful of times in my life. But for the most part, the way I grew up was amazing. I say this because I feel like our small and diverse community saw no color. My white friends would always have me over, and their parents more often than not would call my parents and offer to have me spend the night at their residence. I vividly remember spending summer weekends at my friend’s shore house having the time of my life while being amazed that someone can actually own two homes. Things like this were normal to me, and I feel like they should be for everyone. And no, owning a shore house shouldn’t be normal because lord knows my family couldn’t even afford the rent at times… but growing up with a diverse group of friends and having the opportunity to interact with different families and cultures should be a frequent thing to everyone.

I believe that racism, discrimination and hate are man-made things that are taught to us at some point in our childhood years. I believe this because when I used to go drop off my little sister at school, the teachers would make everyone hold hands in lines as they prepare to enter the building so that they can get a head count. Looking at the joy on their faces of seeing their friends although they just spent the entire day with them the day before is a beautiful sight to see. No hate, no discrimination, no color, no evil, just pure joy and happiness. White girls holding black boys hands, Asian boys holding a Latina girls hand. This is when I questioned, how come they get it, but we don’t? Then it hit me… that all the evils in this world are taught to you at some point in life. We aren’t just born hating each other and making up our own stereotypes. Someone teaches those things, whether it is your parents, the media, your teachers or coaches. The worst part is, is that if it is taught, that means it can be prevented. Prevented by teaching the opposite. The good things in this world; love, equality, and kindness. This is how I was raised and this is how me and my small, diverse group of friends grew up in our tiny fishbowl of a town. Our parents and our community did an outstanding job of not letting us be corrupted and brainwashed by outside forces that dry to divide this country. Treating someone badly because of their skin tone, ethnicity, and economic background is so absurd to me. We were taught to be kind to everyone and to love your neighbors no matter what they look like and where they come from. To have respect for every human being because we are all equal. During these deranged times, I just wish that more people viewed life through our eyes.