I Am Not

Flower Thrower by Banksy. The image is an acknowledgement that that there is a fight, but sometimes, we just need flowers, not stones, to fight our battles.

Identity. Belongingness.
I’ve been asked countless times, in different forms, who I am.
How do you see yourself? What do you identify with or as? Where are you from? Who are you?
I’ve been told not to lose myself, not to let anyone put me in a box, not to let anyone tell me what I can or cannot be. I’ve been told to fight for my identity.

Because I am Asian. I am Mulatto. I am Black. I am Indigenous. I am Woman. I am Geriatric. I am Juvenile. I am Entitled. I am…

In all of this fight for equality and justice, in this whole fight against systemic racism and sexism and all the other isms out there, there are times when all I just want is one precious moment when I don’t have to live in that label-crazed world. All I want is just one itty bitty moment when I can step out into my life without remembering or being forced to remember that I belong to a certain race or sex, or I’m from a certain demographic trying to make it in a world where all the odds are stacked against me.

Sometimes I want to forget there is such a thing as color. Or gender. Or whatever other identity I feel forced to wear.
I want to spend one precious moment from under the cloud of my identity.

I don’t know if that is “color blindness” or “gender neutrality” or whatever.
Those are just extra labels I’m forced to deal with.
It is tiring.
It is exhausting.
It makes for breaking – of the heart and the will.
I’m worn out from lugging this chip boulder on my shoulder around.
I need to shed it. And just be. Me. No more. No less.
No labels or adjectives.
Just simply me.

I imagine that this state of “non-awareness” or “non-identity” is how, say, a white man lives. He is just himself.
He does not step into any boxes the moment his feet hit the ground in the morning.
He probably barely thinks about the fact that he is a man a million times a day.
He is not reminded by the little and big things.
He just is.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ don’t want to be a white man, heck no!‘ I just want to go about my life without having to overthink things.
I don’t want to walk into a room and automatically have my defenses spring up because that’s how I’ve survived this long.
I want to live and love and laugh and go about being human. Just that, human.

This is one reason why I have an issue with things like International Women’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Black History Month.
That’s probably hilarious since I’m writing this piece for BHM, haha! Well, my life feels like it’s been one big joke, but I’m never the one laughing.
I know that these were probably born from a good place and with good intentions, but they inevitably just confirm the fact that the world is a very unhealthy place right now and they remind me that I am “un-whole” or “not enough” and I, therefore, need to be compensated for my “shortcomings”. In some other ways, I see these “celebrations” as the white patriarchy’s way of throwing me a bone to keep me happy and in line.
It’s all just another form of discrimination; Benevolent Discrimination.

I don’t want to be a diversity hire. I want that job or promotion because I bloody well earned it. I want that scholarship because I’m brilliant (and you can bet your last penny that I am!). Calling me a diversity hire is just another way of telling me I’m inferior and lack competence, and I can’t help but wonder if the only reason you do it is to make yourself feel better. You’ve just ticked another box on your feel-good list; we’re an inclusive and diverse organization you say, and pat yourself on the back.

I know I’m probably being unfair to you, and that I’m cynical in my worldview, but, well, I can’t help wondering, and it is there nagging at the back of my mind.
So forgive me if I don’t want to talk about race or gender today; today I’m taking a vacation from my identity and numerous labels.
Today, I’m simply going to smell the flowers and be human.

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