What do people judge me for? Where do you want me to begin? You judge me for my hobbies, my talents, my personality. You’ve never liked the violin. You can’t get into fantasy—you never read. You don’t understand how I can be so outspoken in class—it’s confusing you and your work is suffering.

You judge me for all of these things, and I let you, because I know I judge you in much the same way. A split-second decision can cause ripples for years; if we argued in year eight, we probably won’t be speaking now.

But I have never spoken out against your heritage.

Never.

You wanted to know if my parents were German. No. Well that’s good, because if they were you would have had to shoot them.

You told me Germans were evil.

You wrote Nazi on my rubber in year nine, and I left the room in tears.

I haven’t spoken to you since.

You probably don’t even remember.

But I do. I remember throwing it into the bin, and never telling anyone what you did. And I remember how the feelings were as raw as they had ever been, when I finally told my friends what you had done.

They couldn’t believe it. Not him. He wouldn’t do that.

You did.

But what you did went far beyond a word on a rubber. You stole a part of my very being, and gave it back to me, tarnished and twisted beyond recognition. All of you did, through words and words not spoken, until I didn’t know myself. I never told anyone.

Now I am.

I’m speaking out, because I know who I am.

I’m not ashamed, and no matter what you say, I will not be cowed.

This is what I am:

I am sixteen years old.

I read, and I write, and I do it because I love it.

I was born in Germany.

I am not a Nazi.

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