Thank you for sharing your story with us. I was really moved by it!
My favorite part of your essay was the passage that says, “Society tolerates you. It doesn’t accept you.” I liked this part because I agree with you. I think society strives to tolerate the people, concepts, ideas, and etc, that it doesn’t know or fully understand, but it never strives to accept them. I think that happens because to accept means to change oneself and change is the scariest thing in the world for anyone to go through, especially for those who are being asked to change.
My latter statement is not meant to excuse the lack of acceptance, but simply to knowledge that change is a difficult thing to accept. I remember how difficult change was for me when I moved from Brazil to the U.S. in 1999. At my household, I was not allowed to speak Portuguese and when I did, I was asked to please switch to English. Similarly, I didn’t practice any of my culture in that household because my family believed that in order to acculturate to the U.S. I needed to let it go of who I was.
The most difficult part of letting it go was to accept that I was no longer a “Caucasian”, but rather “Latino”. Being Latino was a foreign concept to me because there are no Latinos in Brazil, just Caucasians, Afro-Brazilians, Native Brazilians and mixtures among these races. I think this change was difficult neither because I was told I was no longer Caucasian nor because I was told I am now Latino. Rather, this change was difficult because it went beyond accepting a new classification. It actually meant that I had to change my personality and my concept of self. This struggle led to several years of me tolerating my re-classification, which was accompanied by several years of self-hate, major depression and suicidal ideation.
After several years struggling with these changes, I began to realize that my struggles would only cease to exist if I started to accept the changes rather than tolerate them. I began to realize that it was only by seeking to understand the meaning of being Latino that I could begin to accept that is who I am now: Latino.
I think that our society has been struggling with changes that are similar to the struggles that I experienced when I moved to the U.S. Similar to my story, I think that our society ought to be accepting of the changes it is going through in order to achieve a healthy growth. If it doesn’t accept them, society will continue to struggle in its pursuit to a healthy development.