My uncle is white. His skin turns red when he gets too much sun, and he has the biggest blue eyes. I call him Tío (uncle in Spanish). My cousins are half-white/half-Dominican and have green eyes and light brown hair. I am brown with black hair and dark brown eyes.

These are all just physical features and in no way describe who we are or how we are family. I remember crying as a kid because people never believed we were cousins. I knew them as my family, not as my “half-white half Dominican cousins” or my “white uncle.” It wasn’t until I got older that I began to see color. Why were people so adamant about us being unrelated? Was it solely because we didn’t “look alike?” We have been taught to reject and hate anything that doesn’t look “normal” or fit into the boxes we’ve created.

Our society is fixated on defining and classifying others based on color, sexual orientation, gender, etc. We are so quick to pin each other against one another because of our differences. However, in spirituality, differences such as yin and yang are viewed as a necessity to maintain balance. It isn’t one versus the other. Instead, the combination of both is needed to promote overall wellbeing. Without darkness, we wouldn’t know light. We are meant to live in harmony.

During Thanksgiving, my uncle jokingly asked me if I no longer loved him anymore because he was white and voted for Trump. Although it was meant as a joke, I cried and wondered was there truth to this claim. I began to look at my uncle as a white man, not as the guy cooking rice and beans while dancing to merengue, with a beer in his hand, who I knew loved me unconditionally. Through my own self-evaluation I realized I was allowing society to alter my judgement, but once I became aware, I changed that. Instead of joining the discrimination, I wanted to come from a place of love, peace, and stillness while chaos surrounded me. I wanted to be honest with myself and delve deep as to why I hold such judgments; I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that I, myself, still get manipulated by society’s projections.

We need to start having open and honest conversations with ourselves and others–without fights–about how we can love each other through our differences. We all struggle with accepting those who don’t fit our “mold.” Through these safe and open conversations we can become love and promote love. We can live in a world of harmony and become a blended family. It isn’t an easy conversation, especially with the self, but it is a much needed one. Be honest and ask yourself how can you become a force for love.

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