Here is an interesting and well written essay in response to both posts “Colored Girl” and “Life Sure is Interesting In America.”
Thank you Rene for your candid words. I am moving your statement to this page because a few of my readers said they had missed it as a comment and I think it deserves more exposure.
I am Marlena’s friend from Tufts and I have struggled with the concept of “who I ride with” as well as “who am I” for a long time. It started in grade school and really has not changed much since.
I was always the kid who did not “act” Puerto Rican. I always tried to be the anti stereotype and hated being put in the “box”. I lived in New England, in Hartford, Connecticut, and always found people there tried to understand you by making you fit their “box” of who you are, Woman or Man, Jew or Black or PR, etc.
I went to prep school in an affluent community and was from the wrong side of the tracks – literally. The box I was in was very restrictive and very negative so I did everything to mess that up. That “box” had a lot of superficial stereotypes that I tried to mess with but I think in refuting that box I ended up refuting a part of me that was real for a very long time. I think I know why I did this but it is a complicated question for me that has components of family, extended family and friends. The end result being that I completely identify with your not belonging in one group or the other.
I am easily identifiable as Latino in my physical appearance but as a result of my early hatred of the box I found little in common with my Latino family and friends from my youth. In fact it’s almost like I hated myself and that became obvious and came across as if I hated my family and friends. That said, even then I would ride with the Latinos. But I eventually had to come to terms with my own self hatred and find peace with my racial identity.
I found myself in my twenties in a place where I needed to make changes in my life. I burned out working long hours and burning the candle on both ends for too long. I had to make a change and when I tried to figure out what to do I had to answer the ultimate question of who am I? When you really have to answer that question, you find it impossible if you hate a part of yourself. Fortunately I ended up figuring out that I was something in the middle and that it was OK.
I don’t mind being the guy who surprises folks and if they can’t handle it I just keep moving through life without them. I became comfortable in my own skin and in fact enjoy the banter and the educating of others of who I am and what I am.
Here is who I am:
I am a good father and coach
I am a geek and a romantic
I am a Man
I don’t fit in any boxes and love that about myself
I just am who I am – love it or leave it 😉