A simple question such as this reduces the five senses to just two: visual and auditory. When someone presents themselves the first thing someone notices is how that person looks, of course this is if blindness is not an issue. The phrase about first impressions being the most important exists for a reason. No matter the mind, the eyes pick up the image right in front of them. Only after taking in the visual image is it then processed and evaluated by each individual’s mind and personality. Looks and such can be and are frequently altered. Right after the visual the next thing that hits are the sounds. This person’s voice, their tone, intonation, and everything that can make it’s way to the ears. This too can be and is being altered. Speech classes, language classes, what reaches the ear can be different every time just with one person. To many this is an advancement, a step toward progress that was once only imaginable. To many this may sound like sci-fi dreams, but to an immigrant and an immigrant’s child this sounds like conflict.
Conflict is the only word that can come to mind because this is a literal conflict of characters, of cultures. Looks begin to be altered because nothing seems to fit in. Maybe if my skin was lighter here, maybe this color takes away from this, maybe this makeup will take away my heavy features. Voice begins to alter because my accent is too heavy, my voice gives away where I am from. What pushes this desire to need to change everything? All for the sense of fitting in? Yes. It is simple for someone to say “stick out!” but the sense of coming to a strange land and feeling completely away from home is one that cannot just disappear. No amount of confidence in sticking out will erase the harsh words out of someone’s mouth for being different. Nothing can erase the looks that burn through a person until scars form. So this need comes from a fear. A fear of being a complete alien. As if the darker color of skin or a different accent will take away the status of a human being. It should no longer be asking those that are different to stick out and be confident, it should be about informing those that this concept of “different” does not exist. What one deems as different in one country is praised or relished in another.
The darker color of my family’s skin is proof of the labor of our people. It shows the years spent outside working with the earth in order to feed families. It shows the hard work of a warrior that fought for the people of its land and those of a foreign land. It shows the love of the sun’s kisses on our land. The color of our skin shows the strength and history of land that is growing and thriving in the world.
The accent that laces my parents’ words is proof of their determination. It shows their knowledge of multiple languages that even one mouth can contain. It shows their perseverance in a land that was not their home. It shows their love for their motherland as she waits for her children to come back to her. It shows their history comes from another land across the ocean. It shows their struggle to come to a land of opportunity.
The differences that create who we are as people are what make our characters. They are what show our inner qualities that encase our true beauty. We do not need to be told to be stronger and “stick out more”, they are defined in every breath we take in and release. It is time others are told, there is no different. There is no need to point out, there is no need to instill fear. There is no different for underneath it all we are made of the the same bones and blood that will return to the earth upon our death.