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By Alondra P.
People have created useful inventions to make life easier, but at the same time unconsciously created obstacles that haunt humanity. One of those obstacles is the man-made idea of different races. The human race is one and dividing it only creates an atmosphere for superiority. When I joined a rowing team I hoped to become a better person physically, however it mainly transformed me mentally in a way I never expected.
On the first day none of the girls would talk to me, but it was expected since many were new. I was one of two Latinas on the team, and the other Latina happened to be my friend so it was mainly us two on our own for a while. After a month, I went solo. Due to my friend’s lighter complexion, she assimilated easily with the other girls and was now part of the team that turned their backs on me. I tried to deny the idea of racism; I wanted to believe that during the year 2013 it would be nonexistent. A very straightforward person made it clear that was not the case after explicitly addressing the issue she had with my ethnicity. She admitted she was surprised a Mexican had made it so far. At that point I became more focused on mentally preparing to be an outcast, than mentally preparing to race a 5k.
I tried to not let this issue affect me, but solitude can be harsh. I could deal with solitude at home, but when the team had to travel to other states, even other countries to race, it became overwhelming for me. There was one instance in which I was offered the awesome opportunity to travel an all expenses paid trip to Germany for a month, but I was terrified to be alone. I took the offer but also took on the mentality of an independent tourist. I promised myself I would not depend on any of my “teammates”. Miraculously, I had a friend in Germany. Not from my team though, she was from another rowing team from San Diego. I was with her most of the time, and if she was not there, I was on my own.
After 2 years of constant ignorance and disrespect, I gave up and left the team. However, none of this dilemma went untold. I wrote a letter to the coach explaining what had happened to me, and so did my mom just to back me up. The funny thing is that the coach never replied even after constant e-mailing asking me to come back to the team. I didn’t mind that she didn’t reply, my goal was that after reading my letter she would keep an eye on the issue to prevent such experiences from happening to any newcomers. Racism slapped me in the face to let me know of its existence. The sting reminds me everyday to be careful about how I address others and encourages me to put a stop to any unfair treatment I see before anyone else gets slapped with racism too.