In many of my classes, it has become apparent to me that I am deliberating people deliberate themselves. People trying to socialize their right in the world most and be perceived by the world in the same light they perceive themselves.
The journey of identity, both external and internal, is encompassed by philosopher Alan Watts’ quote “I believe that if we are honest with ourselves the most fascinating problem in the world is: who am I?” This is the question we spend much of our life attempting to answer. This is the question we intellectualize through paintings, films, and novels. This is the question we continue to politically disregard though it is the foundation for all our politics. For many people of color in the United States, this is the question dictated by racial stigmas, which demands that the development of who they are is dependent on how they are racially categorized.
And what is a person of color? What by the existence of that identification alone is implied about humanity? I think it means that we, as people of color, live as an additional or almost, accidental people. Why is it not enough to just say person when I speak about myself or when someone else speaks about me?
After reading the article “Third World Quarterly row: Why some western intellectuals are trying to debrutalise colonialism,” and the piece “I am a Coolie” I began to think about the more subtle, intimate consequences of colonialism. Be it the exploited people reclaiming derogatory terms like ‘n****r’ and ‘coolie’ to rather reflect all they’ve endured and overcome. It is a constant navigation for pride in one’s natural self through abstractions like language, love, and beauty that have been perverted by colonialism. I wrote a poem that I feel embodies the hurt and confusion when you can’t find that pride because it has been systematically stolen from you.
In English class, she learned
that Juliet is the sun and she has spent years
trying to feel her light. Years of sitting beneath
scorching heat scalding the tips of her girlhood
ears while generational echoes tell her to
unkink the Dominican in her hair. The stench
of burning curls becomes the scent of
apprehensive conformity and the blood lining
the insides of her cheeks taste the way longing might.
She looked to Juliet, to the sun, to see
remains of herself but she never found them.
Instead she cried the secrets of colonialism,
because she is Julietta, never Juliet.
The moon tried to whisper to her “Va con paz,”
on a bright morning before she realized the
sun had risen and she was to be lost, once more
and always, in its light.