A Story by Skygazer 1001, Age: 17

Ever since I started going to school I’ve felt what isolation means first-hand. I remember I heard the word indigenous from my 2nd-grade teacher and in my naivety, I found it an extremely fun word to say, but immediately afterward I understood that this word would only mean that “he’s not one of us”. I was constantly being stereotyped and thought of as lesser than, regardless of what I did or did not do. Before the second grade I never really cared about what people looked like and frankly, I truly believe that if a child is wired to see these differences and act differently toward someone because of them (and not just as innocent curiosity) there is something deeply wrong there. As a person of color (I have Inuit heritage), I have been associated with “stupidity”, “savagery”, “poverty”, and even “exoticness”. At school, those who were supposed to be my friends would mimic throwing spears and laugh or would shun me because there was something about “my people” hunting seals on the news, saying that they did not want to be associated with “such type of people” or “how could you be so cruel?”. I don’t remember ever having blamed one of them for what another “white” person has done. There were, of course, other kids with a background that was similar to mine and they too were the target of such discrimination and at times they even had it worse than me. At home, I was growing agitated and would pick fights with my parent whenever they did something remotely related to our stereotypical image, even if it was something like going fishing as a father-son activity, which I’m sure some of my classmates (who were against hunting seals) already did. What is weird is that people seem to both know and deliberately forget that there is not much room left in our current society for being from any other cultural background than the “modern version” of whatever is acceptable. We don’t live in igloos anymore and a lot of us don’t even do “Eskimo kisses” as you so kindly put. My schoolmates and I are born in the same geographic location and are exposed to very similar things in our lives which means that at the end of the day we’re not that different from one another. So what is this insistence on outcasting a single person? What would you gain as a group? I’ll never understand why some people avoid me as if I’m the plague, but neither do I understand those who just get close to you to say that they are open-minded and cool. Some of these open-minded and kind people can display a heavy amount of racism that they think is only them showing kindness and sympathy. Don’t get me wrong I’m proud of who I am and my heritage but I don’t think that I would ever make anyone feel lesser because of it and my fault is maybe that I expect the same amount of decency from other people.