About a year ago, I met Radiance, my best friend, the greatest influence in my life, and the strongest woman I know.

At the time, I was still discovering who I was, therefore, seeing all the qualities I desired to establish in myself in her, drew me in immediately. She was, and is, confident, beautiful, strong and generous. She has the ability to create balance and grace with every fluid movement of her body, mind and soul, something I had never seen before in any given individual.

I am amazed each and every day by how immersed she becomes within the culture of so many. Her arms have remained open to each experience and opportunity she has encountered. Her devotion to social justice and awareness is truly admirable as she speaks with conviction and purpose. She is radiant as her name implies, and she is so gracefully composed.

Unfortunately, as all light can testify, there is an overwhelming amount of darkness surrounding even the brightest of stars. We often find those who are the most welcoming, expressive and free-spirited, inflict a false sense of fear within those who are living amongst the shadows, those who close their blinds and attempt to shield themselves of their neighbors. Those who succumb to ideology so skewed and narrow in nature often lack the ability to let any ray of light reach the surface.

I am deeply saddened by a handful of times Radiance has been “tolerated” rather than accepted. She has been belittled and shamed by peers who simply do not understand the strength it requires to become entirely and completely sure of oneself, to be what society deems as “different” or “wrong.” She has been oppressed not only for the color of her skin, but by the progressive nature in which she resides.

The other night we had a long conversation involving identity. After listening to an injustice she recently experienced, I became very upset. For the first time in my life, someone so close to me had been discriminated against and judged simply for being herself. I could see the energy that inspired me to befriend her in the first place leave her eyes.

I never want to see her that vulnerable again, and I should not have to. No one deserves to be seen as less than because of the way in which they love, learn, exist. We, as a society, must choose kindness, accept kindness and exert kindness towards others. We may survive, but we cannot thrive until we do so.

“We did not come this far to only come this far.”

“This world is not made of shades of grey. It is made of colours like azure and coral and emerald and marigold. But it insists on painting everything in black and white and fitting it into boxes that it understands. Do not do that to yourself. Paint your personality a million different colours. Leave them scratching their heads, unsure of how to handle the magic that you are.” –Nikita Gill, "Colours"

​SIERRA HOBSON is a blogger for Videtteonline.com. Contact her at srhobso@ilstu.edu. Follow her on twitter @hobson_sierra.

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