Simple as Subjectivity
As a child I was instilled with and abundance of great qualities from a superb pair of individuals that I am honored to refer to as my parents. My dad, a man of color, and my mother, a Hispanic woman, did everything in their power to ensure that I grew up versed in the multitude of cultures I belonged to along with those I don’t. They did such as they both were raised with the daunting obstacle that is- subjectivity. Though neither of them were crippled by such a mentality, they were forced to witness and often fall victim of such. With their own experience with such terrors, they did what they could to prepare me for the monstrosities society would throw at me. However no mere lecture could prepare me for the lessons life would teach me. Only with these lessons would I learn what it means to be multi-cultured.
At the time I was unaware of my first trial with an ever prevalent vessel of subjectivity, racism. I was only in first grade when I was battered with an onslaught of bias judgment. I never understood why I would get in trouble for the exact same actions that other children would go unscathed, without the slightest discipline. My teacher crossed the line the day she forced me to wear a humiliating “tattle-tail” after I reported another students latent misconduct. I was devastated. Looking back it now I’m able to laugh at my dramatized weeping. Then it was no joke, and my parents didn’t hesitate to treat it with the significance it warranted. They brought the teachers tendencies to the administrations attention with relentless vigor. They were furious that such actions were allowed to carry on for so long. After subtle investigation it was determined that she was treating me so as it was I was the only student of color in the entire class. In fact, I was the only person of color in the entire school, keep in mind it was a small private school. Nevertheless this mentality that I was below everyone else was anonymous to me. I couldn’t process that someone would be treated differently simply for the fact that their skin was a different color. It wasn’t for many years that I would finally grasp this concept.
In the years shortly after life would teach me a lesson that can only truly be comprehended through experience. It was only fifth grade when I was sure, in my heart of hearts, that I had met the love of my life. I was infatuated beyond belief or logic. Tiffany Cope. A kind hearted and innocent girl with long, beautiful blonde hair that flowed past her shoulders like a waterfall in a surreal dream. She would let me borrow her makers and colored pencils when ever I wanted. That was the elementary equivalent to making me dinner or a sensual massage to a modern day Zack. We would have a blast every recess just chasing each other to our hearts content, which was seemingly never ending, as we were disappointed every time we were forced to go back to class. We eventually and confidently labeled each other as boyfriend, and girlfriend. At that age the formality of meeting someone’s parents for subconscious approval but I couldn’t have expect the first meeting. With my parent’s unparalleled education in the ideals equality, I was once again dumbfounded at the adversity one’s negligence on the subject brought upon me. As surprised as I was when her father immediately and quite forcefully exclaimed “Why did you bring a ‘nigger’ into my house?” I couldn’t logically explain my response. I’m not sure why I did what I did, and I regret it every day of my life. I softly apologized for intruding and promised I wouldn’t date his daughter anymore. He hadn’t heard me speak a single word. He didn’t know a single fact about me. He didn’t even know my name but he hated me because of the color of my skin. What I can’t seem to get over was the fact that I actually apologized for being who I am. I apologized for being colored. That is quite easily the most disgraceful implication I have ever made in my life. I blatantly admitted I was ashamed of who I was, not only African American, but Hispanic; two of the most aggressively stereotyped prey of prejudice. At the time of was abashed that I wasn’t white, like them. Now I am infuriated with myself that I would let another beings simple minded insolence bring me to such incompetence. Luckily, this was a mistake I would be given the chance to redeem myself with.
During my senior year of high school I was confronted with a situation that felt all too familiar. When meeting a girl who I was interested in’s parents I noticed a subtly demeaning tone in her father’s voice. It was amplified when he took a little more obvious stand with his displeasure towards the fact that I was not white as he. Her mother was enthralled with meeting as she felt “I was an incredible young man.” She made this conclusion AFTER meeting me. Her father was dissatisfied the second he laid his bigoted eyes on me. Although I was infuriated with this blatant act of prejudice, I acted in the manner that a person educated in the ideals of quality would. I asked him a few simple questions, but in the way we ask naïve children in psych analysis surveys. “How would you like it if you were fired from his job for being white? How would you like it if you got stares of disgust for the way you looked? Could you imagine your life without your wife? What if you never had the chance to be with her because her father was as simple minded as you?” He was speechless and for the first time in my life I was proud of my heritage. Not only was I proud of it, I was grateful for that very heritage giving me that inner strength and knowledge to say that.
I come from two of the utmost resilient cultures in the world. Both have clawed their ways through the muck of adversity. Both have gone to triumph in the world. I am the embodiment of perseverance and pride. I may not have been able to completely comprehend this as a child. However, just as my ancestors were taught the terrible lesson of another’s fear of difference, I quickly learned that society will look down upon dissimilarity. I learned that I must take that heartbreaking feeling it brings and feed it to the everlasting blaze that is pride for who I am. I may be African American, but I am not the disrespectful and ignorant thief that society has labeled me and my “brothas” of color as. I may be Hispanic, but I am not the dirty and deceitful pig society has so selfishly labeled the whole race as.