Oakland, CA — A classmate of mine once said to me, “Aaron, it’s like you’re a white man in a black person’s body.” This isn’t the first time I’ve been told this.
I’m a young black man and with that comes a lot of assumptions. Between the color of my skin and my dreadlocks, people see me as a troublemaker. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.
I consider myself a very respectful person. I’m always polite — phrases like "please", "thank you", "may I", "ma’am", "sir" — are just part of my everyday vocabulary. My friends joke around and say I’m white-washed. But that’s not who I am.
Growing up, my elders told me to treat people the way I want to be treated. While it sounds very cliche, this really resonated with me. This mindset of “give respect and get respected” has been my way of life.
No matter the color of your skin or how you talk, that shouldn’t determine someone’s identity.
People will always have their opinions about me, it’s inevitable. I’ll just continue to ignore them. I am my own person and I want to embrace that.