Brian Morrobel is just like any other high school student. Or is he?
Morrobel came to LRHS two years ago, as a freshman, from Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Now a junior, Morrobel has well adapted into the Leesville community.
What most people do not know about Morrobel is how diverse his background really is.
“My mom was born and raised in the Dominican Republic and came to the US when she was about 26. My father was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. My dad’s mom is fully Puerto Rican and his father is fully Dominican,” said Morrobel.
As a kid, Morrobel and his brother spoke Spanish in their home. “I learned to speak Spanish before I spoke English,” he said.
Morrobel grew up in a Hispanic community. Not looking like the other’s around him created many problems during his childhood. “Being the only kid who looks white was not the easiest thing to do,” he said.
With red hair and light skin, he was constantly picked on and bullied throughout his childhood. The harassment was not only verbal, but physical, too. “People would talk trash about me in Spanish, thinking that I don’t speak Spanish, and when I said something to them about it, they would beat me up.”
When Morrobel was eight years old, he decided to do something about this. “I took kickboxing for six years in order to learn how to defend myself,” he said.
Not only were members of his own community picking fights with him for his outward appearance, people in bordering (mainly white) communities picked fights with him for where he lived.
He still commutes to and from New Jersey to visit family and friends. His band, Suburban Scum, is stationed there. When the group has shows and occasional tours, he flies (for free, as his father is a pilot) up the coast where he plays guitar and sometimes drums. However, not even 20 minutes before our interview, Morrobel announced to his fellow bandmates that he must leave the hardcore/punk band because of how difficult it is to commute so often.
But, to his surprise, Trevor Simpson, former Leesville student, recently asked if he wanted to start a band. The new band will be called “Animal Empathy.”
Morrobel expressed how much has improved since moving to Raleigh. Because more people share the same skin color, the amount of fights is significantly lower.
“I only fight back if someone takes a swing at me, which happened all the time back home,” he said.
All of Morrobel’s experiences have undoubtedly shaped his outlook on society. “If there are two things in this world that I cannot stand–they are racism and bullying. I was, and kind of still am, a victim of both and I always try to stand up for the kid who can’t defend himself.”
“It has actually provided a way for more people to learn about me if they want to. I am usually a very quiet person so not many people know too much about me, unless they hang out with me outside of school so it has definitely helped break out of my quiet, shy shell haha.”
“Growing up where I did (with my background and my appearance) definitely taught me how to toughen up and defend myself against anything coming my way, which I believe is a very important thing to know how to do in life because you never know what life will throw at you.“
Morrobel expressed how grateful he is for being able to share his story. Usually a quiet person, Morrobel is glad to be able to “break out of [his] shy-shell” and share his background in hope that others will be inspired to stand up for their culture.
Fascinating article. Thanks for the reminder that we are all people. It’s so easy to look only at the outside and forget that the old man fought in the wars, the grouchy woman is supporting three kids on her own, and the shy guy is more than he appears!