September 27, 2009

This is [not] who you are

So I never got a chance to parse out my identity, like the after school specials tell us we're supposed to...I thought that's what high school was for.

Once I commented in speech class that we definitely know who we are or think we certain points. I was pretty sure I knew who I was at 13 and I assumed I'd be that way forever...and it almost became a self fulfilling prophecy but obviously I grew up & changed (whether that was for better or for worse...ahem).

Strangely enough I look back and realize I was...startled when I was a child, from about kindergarten to grade school age. I had a really distorted view of who I was. You may say, well that's to be expected you were a child. I remember it clearly though, despite having two obviously dark parents & I was fairly surrounded by other children of color I somehow had this perception that I wasn't black but white. Weird. I had no concept of race--again, not such a bad thing (or is it).

Well, then I started going to majority white schools and the whole "lulz @ darkie" thing got really obvious...and I had no idea who I was or what I was supposed to be or do.

That continued for quite some time, racially speaking. Obviously in other ways I began to know myself and the whole race thing just factored itself out for a while until I decided that I'd like to be black. Then I didn't know the first thing about being black and at the time I was trying to suppress my queer identity too (that didn't work btw). I mean...I had and still don't have very many black friends so who did I look to for pointers? White folks. And while white folks are apparently better at mimicking black behavior than even the darkest among us, obviously it was a parody and a caricature...but I didn't know much better so at some point I literally began to hate my own race. Again self-fulfilling prophecies (I like these).

So anyway, which leads us to today, I was walking around in the nice FINALLY FUCKING RAINLESS afternoon sun, not quite ready to retire to my cave--er, dorm room again just yet, so I go to the library. After sliding around in the goddamn swamp that is half the campus now (I knew there was a reason everyone was on the sidewalk...but me) I came upon my goal. Again, (an arbitrary) 80% of the time I go to the libary to wander around the 3rd floor then leave again but today I figured I could lighten the shelf load and at least take a book down.

I picked at a few things and sat down to skim pages and eventually ran into the black/women/alt/I have no idea anymore basically contains whatever isn't in Old or Middle English and isn't written solely by white dudes. Anthologies. Nuyorican poetry. An Asian & Asian American lit section I could pinch between my fingers. Black lit. Women. Jewish American. And combinations.

I sit down on the stool because I'm short and by that point mysteriously sleepy and I scan again. I find something called Ghetto Literature. It's an anthology of--hang on--"ghetto literature", short poems & stories from minority groups, mostly black, but some Jewish and...Hispanic? i think. Interestingly when I googled "ghetto literature" the first thing I got was this on Amazon...although obviously I should have been more specific since I'm pretty sure ghetto/urban/hood lit is an official genre now.

Edyt: Hang on everyone, it's actually called The Ghetto Reader. HAW HAW, I just pwn'd my own self.

Eh, anyway, I then got This Bridge Called My Back just because I've never officially read the whole thing although I've caught many snippets in various other anthologies. While I looked around I kept thinking to myself why I picked these up in particular--my determination to check something out this year, despite the fact that I have plenty of school work to read & two or three unfinished novels anyway?

Or could it be a connection I so desperately need but I'm probably not going to get in real life, not this life time (more on that later). And then I started formulating this entry and like so many, it doesn't have an ending, or at least one that's not horribly abrupt.

blog comments powered by Disqus