The Race

“Wear your running shoes and be prepared. The person who wins the race tomorrow wins the scholarship”, THE Daniel Meyer told us.

My first thought was, crap. I can’t run fast to save my life. Little did I know under what conditions exactly I’d be running.

The race completely changed my perspective on the way I look at not only my life and myself, but everyone around me. When we all started by holding hands, I was extremely confident. I felt secure, I felt their comfort, I felt one with the people on either side of me. As the questions progressed, “have you ever been evicted from your home?” and “have you ever felt you were rejected of an opportunity due to your race?”, I began to take steps forward. These steps made me feel isolated — alone in a sense — because even though I was taking these steps due to privilege, it was so difficult for me to accept what has been there all along. These things that us as living human beings are so ignorant to, are in such plain sight.

So, the questions are over, right? “Now turn around. Look at where you stand. Look at who is in front of you, now look at who is behind you.” I couldn’t look. Turning around for a split second broke my heart and it did so because even though this was the reality of the situation, none of it was my fault. I felt so helpless. I couldn’t do anything to help the people all the way in the back that I love and care for so deeply because at the end of the day, I didn’t choose to come out first, I just did. And I feel like the hardest part about it is realizing that people who are so deserving of more have to work a million times harder to reach the same goal.

“On the count of three, on your mark… get set… go!” There goes my scholarship. There goes everything I’ve worked for all year. There goes what I’ve been praying for for the last 8 months. I couldn’t bring my feet to move, much less to run. I went into this competition saying great, I’m going to lose to literally being handed another opportunity that was being taken from people who deserved it more. Had I chosen to run, I would have had an extremely good chance at winning, but I couldn’t.

I was raised to always fight for what I want, to never give up the race, to continue to do my best and work my hardest. But in that moment, if there was something I could’ve done to make things just a little bit easier for the people who already have it so difficult, I would’ve done it even if that meant putting myself completely last, so I did. I chose not to run.
— Sarena Torres, House of Sagan