North Carolina State University
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Standing knee-deep in clear water, I peer at the minnows swimming lazily around my toes.
“Help, Daddy, there’s a Mexican!” wails a curly-haired girl from the security of a bright pink inflatable ring. Her pointed finger indicates to all the target of her outburst: a young, caramel-skinned girl a few feet in front of me who is frozen in mid splash.
We turn for each other and I envelop her in a hug and pick her up. The minnows scatter. My chest burns with a familiar rage and I try to focus on something. The girl has shiny, dark hair. It’s slick with lake water and warm with summer sun, and it drapes over my shoulder as I turn to carry her out of the soft waves.
Time slows to a haze. Suddenly the burning in my chest fills my throat and I can’t swallow. Instead, I whirl around and meet the aqua eyes of the pointing girl.
“Dark skin doesn’t mean she’s Mexican.” I inhale. “She’s Guatemalan, and she’s my sister.”
I exhale, and the girl’s eyes dart to the child in my arms and then back to me. They ripple with confusion like lake water, washing away my daydreamed outburst.
Quietly, I wrap my sister in a towel and we walk home. The burning in my throat cools and my voice escapes as a whisper. “It’s okay, Nila. How about we have a...
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