Four years ago my older brother was a victim of an armed robbery and was shot and killed; though I was only 12, the weeks and months after the shooting are still painfully clear in my mind. Family and friends surrounded me, yet I still felt so alone, having this violence thrust me out of my once perfect world. After this experience I began to profile the race of my brother’s killer, associating people of the same race with the criminal who took away one of my best friends. I formed an unhealthy prejudice at a young age, which continued to grow until I faced the challenge to destroy all stereotypes and learn to love a person who I might not have accepted before.
Four years later I never would have imagined feeling so overcome with happiness while changing dirty diapers, getting spit up on, and waking up in the middle of the night to a loud, high- pitched cry. Bringing home a foster brother was the best gift, especially when I had suffered so much loss. I did not find it challenging to take care of my new little brother; the challenging part for me was that this baby was the same race as the man who murdered my older brother.
I did not know how to feel about the baby at first; of course, like any other teenage girl, I adored him, but the prejudices were still embedded deeply. How would I learn to love my new brother? Whenever I looked at him, I was scared of the kind of person he could become. It turned out I did not need to try too hard. This baby has captured my heart, and as he starts to grow up and continuously shows how he loves my family and I, the prejudices and stereotypes diminish. Raising my younger brother has taught me that no matter what the race, Caucasian, African American, or Hispanic, if one learns to hate, only then will they show hatred, but, if one learns to love, they will grow to care for others before themselves.
The experience with my older brother and foster brother changed me, and has helped me realize that through everything I do today, it is not our race or tragedies that we face that define us, it is what one takes away from the experiences of life. Maybe if my older brother’s killer were raised the way my siblings and myself are, he never would have become the hateful person that he is today. I cannot dwell on that. What I take away is that everyone should put love, kindness, and compassion into everything they do and never lose sight of the fact that they can make a difference in someone’s life. Due to my experience, I’m making a difference in the life of someone who was once a stranger, but is now a beloved brother, and he is making a beautiful difference in mine.
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