You probably didn't approve of what I did to sweet Diana. You might even believe her to be a victim. Trust me. Diana was no victim. She was incredibly smart and she played her cards well. I had to admire her. Given a role reversal, I might not have had the courage to do what she did.
To challenge and defy someone like me seemed foolish. I was never one to be a fool. I shied away from engaging in activities that might cause me harm. It was challenging growing up and not being sure of who you were supposed to be.
Prejudice, according to the dictionary this means having a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. I grew up being called Dominican by those around me. I didn't know that it was meant to be an insult because I didn't know anything about them as a people.
They said it was because my skin was a darker shade of caramel and I had curly hair. "I'm not Dominican" I would say. A part of me felt as though they were trying to offend me but I didn't understand why I felt that way.
As I got older, I started to understand. I felt like they were trying to offend me because they were trying to offend me. It seemed to me that if you didn't fit into the mold that was expected (if you were different) you were less than those around you.
I didn't speak Spanish and I didn't look like the others. I was an outsider in my own community. To them, I must be Dominican. There weren't any Dominican's in the neighborhood so you can imagine that the prejudice continued.
I'd hear things like "They are dirty!" one would say.
"Those criminals!" another spat.
"Watch out those for Dominican thieves!" yet another spewed more words of hate.
"Ugly!" this one hurt more than the others. It felt more personal.
I knew beyond a shadow of doubt when my cousin gave birth to a baby girl who was mixed. She was half Dominican. I was around 11 but I will never forget the day she brought her beautiful baby girl home.
"Ugh, what is that?" one of my aunts said.
"You brought this ugly piece of garbage here?" another replied.
I stood there, watching from a distance. The awareness surrounding me in such a strange way. 'Why were they saying these things about this beautiful baby?' I became so distinctly aware of their words that I started to pay closer attention. I had never really paid attention before. I had never really thought about the things they would say.
"Those blacks will steal your shirt right off your back if you let them."
"The dirty Chinese wipe their ass and keep cooking your meal."
"Those White crooks, they'll take everything from you and say it was their's, to begin with."
"Those illegals swim across the water to steal our jobs." On and on, each prejudice oozing out of their mouths and poisoning my mind.
Remember, I am not a victim. Even though I did believe them at first, I believed that they knew better because they had life experiences. Surely, they must have seen or experienced these types of things to make these types of claims. Right?
In time, I discovered that they had learned those stories from those that had come before them and they learned it from those who came before them. Over time, the stories had become facts that solidified itself in their mind and guided them to believe these statements to be truths.
What is the truth? Truth is relative. Truth is a matter of perspective. If I believe I am better than you does that make it true? If you believe that you are better than me does that make it true? The truth is never black or white.
For what one person's views as the truth another might see as a lie. Where there are two or more parties involved the truth will always be subjective. A man may view the woman as having consented to their tryst where the woman may have viewed the night with fear and horror at being taken against her will.
Her 'voice' lost from terror she doesn't utter "No". What happens next in this story? Who was right and who was wrong? I am not asking you to answer me. That is a rhetorical question. I have already formulated my opinion just as you have. It's OK, I forgive you.
Diana surprised me because she was Dominican. She was what I was accused of being but she was so much more than I would have ever imagined. She was strong, she was passionate, and she was brave.
I admired her for her bravery. It was decided. I was going to befriend her. Yes, that was a good plan indeed. Diana, my first Dominican friend. Her tenacity and courage shifted my perceptions of an entire group of people. My prejudices were challenged and if I could be wrong about this...what else could I be wrong about?
Author's Note: This was a challenging chapter for me because a part of me didn't want to repeat the things that I used to hear. It felt like bringing that negative energy into space. However, I couldn't tell the story without letting you in on that part of my world. I hope that you can appreciate the background and if you liked this chapter please mark it and leave a comment. Thanks for reading.
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