Born and raised in New York, I've always considered myself a regular American kid.
I feel deeply connected to the pop culture icons I grew up with, from Billie Eilish to the Knicks. I've spent countless hours listening to Kendrick Lamar's music and watching highlights of Patrick Ewing's awe-inspiring plays. They've been my heroes, role models, and sources of inspiration.
However, as I've grown older, I've come to realize that not everyone sees me the same way. Despite being born and raised here, my skin color has made me appear as an outsider to some.
Experiencing stares and discrimination has been challenging, and reconciling these experiences with my sense of identity has been difficult. I've always believed I belonged here, but at times, I've been uncertain.
Navigating the world as an alien, particularly as a child, has been tough. I've faced bullying and name-calling because of my appearance. But I've learned to take pride in who I am and to stand up for myself. Embracing my alien heritage, I've transformed it into a source of strength.
Being an alien doesn't mean I don't belong here. I have every right to call myself an American and to participate in the culture I love. My differences don't diminish my worth.
My hope is that my story will inspire others to embrace their unique qualities and find acceptance in a world that can often be cruel and unkind.