The Outsider MAG

By Unknown, Unknown, Unknown

I look around and I see it, and then I read about it. But I never thought I wouldbe faced with discrimination firsthand. It's my junior year in high school, withlots of opportunities, freedom and responsibility. I decided to join thecross-country team, and somehow I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I knew most ofthe team from classes and from running track.

The first day of practice Idisregarded the stares. As the season went on, though, I started to feel out ofplace, like an outsider.

I was the only African-American and there was noone I could relate to or who could relate to me. I stayed to myself and keptthinking, Life is not always great, but I just have to get through this. Therewere certain people I was able to get along with, but even they wouldoccasionally make racial comments. By then I was fully aware of how much respectthey lacked.

One day after a meet as we were preparing to leave, theystarted discussing how teens sometimes do crazy things. Then all of a sudden theissue of black and white surfaced and someone said, "Whites are superior toblacks, blacks have issues." The saddest part of this was realizing theyknew I was there and didn't care. My world crumbled as they made comment aftercomment and laughed. Reality smacked me in the face. I'd had my first encounterwith discrimination.

The tears poured from my eyes as I headed for thebus. The only thought I had was how I had been deceived into believing thesepeople were my friends and I could trust them. Even though some apologized, Idon't have the respect for them I had had before. My insight on people will neverbe the same.

After the incident, I took some time away from the team toreflect on what was important to me. I decided to stay on the team because I knewif I quit I would be letting them win. Looking back, I know what I went throughwas a lesson not just on how to stand up for my beliefs, but to be morecompassionate toward others. The cross-country season is drawing to a close nowand all the hardships I faced have turned into rewards. I must cross the finishline on top.

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