Wednesday, December 29, 2010
How being an Albino can shatter "Big Brother" and teach a lesson to all you traditional race-thinkers...
As an Albino, I imagine myself liberated from assumptions that color is a part of race. The blood of my ancestors runs through me as much as any other Mestizo. My cheekbones, eyes, and nose tell me so, yet I do not have the dark hair or skin that my bloodline usually dictates for me. As a result, I see and feel my understanding of race as a true social construct. Therefore, I consider myself a somewhat victor over the device of separation that race was built upon.
It is a lonely place to be as an outlier. Many people feel sorry for me because of my "condition." But, I am also glad that I do not suffer their fate of normalcy that clips their wings of consciousness. A huge irony is that as I type this, I can't help but notice that the individuals that feel the most sorry for me are those who I would say have body, color, and facial structures that are "typical" of their race (obviously), and get shitted on from society because of it. I am outside of the games of "oh, they look white" or "damn, he's dark as shit" as many others are scrutinized over. Paper bag tests are pointless, and passing has been a device imposed upon me rather than chosen. Yes, there have been times where I chose to speak English over Spanish to Latinos and Spanish speakers, but that was more of an issue of acculturation and context rather than pretending to be something I am not. In the end, I speak English. And, there are plenty of Latinos that are as brown as the earth, but can't speak a lick of Spanish if a million dollars were placed on the table in case they pronounced their last name properly.
I do get jealous that I cannot represent on the outside the brownness and color celebrated by my brothers and sisters in poetry, books, and media. I feel left out on certain experiences that would draw me closer to my people. But trust me to the fullest when I tell you that racism and discrimination are some devious bastards and they will find a way to fuck up the day of the whitest colored Mestizos and Blacks. We all got our issues to deal with.
I began dating a white woman for the first time this year. As a person of color, I concerned myself of this notion of being "down" among my brothers and sisters for the very first time in my thirty-three years of life on this planet. These concerns go back to my earlier statement about wanting to feel a part of a shared experience with my brothers and sisters, not an indictment on who I am seeing. I spoke about this with a great friend of mine, another person of color and social activist who is seeing a white person. We shared how we feel a sense of scrutiny by our own people, perceived or real, from those who see racial identity from the function of their "typical" dark skin and hair. What I conclude is that obviously this should not be of any concern. My indictment towards those who think any less of me because of this, is that they are taking on the same act of purification and segregation their oppressors have imposed upon everyone. A preservation of social or cultural purity is completely nonsensical as each "race" has had social, genetic, cultural exchanges with one another since time began. The notion that my values will become affected, that my treatment of others will change, or that I feel that I am "moving up", is absolutely ridiculous. As I mentioned earlier, racism is a bitch. One if its keen tricks is taking on new forms to meet the nomenclature and framework of the day. The Jim Crow of yesteryear is the Prison Industrial Complex of today.
So after writing all this, maybe I do have my own crap to deal with. It may not be the same as the majority of Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, or Asian Pacific Americans, but I think it provides an opportunity for all of us to expand our notions of what this race thing is about. I feel like living proof that race is made up on silly measures and rules. I challenge every white, Black, or Latino to think about their understanding of race, whether its based on seeing it as a social construct or a genetic and biologically based categorization system. In the end its about how you treat others and leaving enough room to know there are other ways of seeing things.