“Being a woman & being Colored is a metaphysical dilemma I haven’t conquered yet.” -Ntozake Shange (For Colored Girls)
-All of my life I thought I knew myself. This self, this free flowing shapeless dance of limitless imitation. I have swayed simpering to her tune. I have danced to her rhythm. I have beat to her drum. Flattening myself lifeless and dangling. I have surrendered my color, to blind eyes. Gifted away my magic in futile attempts to belong. I have been deprived, uninspired, disempowered through muted phases of womanhood. No colored shoulder to lean on. I have ached, desperately splintering soul in an attempt to reach, deeper than the color in my bones.
Killing old selves to be born anew.
For I am more soul than skin.
More mind than word.
A flower of a different bloom.
Cultivating my own magic through self identity.-
Up until this past year, I have never truly experienced discrimination. I had never fully awakened myself to the possibility that I would cross paths with human beings suffering from ignorance and xenophobia. I have always lived an open life, surrounded by open people in a world that I believed was changing.
I never knew myself truly, until I looked into the eyes of a deranged man in The Netherlands. His face twisted and contorted with hatred to me, a person he had never met before, sputtering “Nigger” and other demeaning words. I never knew myself truly, until this complete stranger imposed upon me, naming me as something I was not. My initial reaction was shock and horror but I could only retort with laughter. Laughter.
I realized, my whole life, I never really looked at people by the color of their skin. Including myself, I’ve always looked at people as just people, other beings, with heartaches and sadness and love and happiness. Other beings sharing similar experiences, all relative in some way, shape or form. It’s not that I was ignorant to color, I just knew there was more to being. My eyes opened again and again traveling as an interracial couple abroad throughout Europe. Whether being subjected to racial profiling at the borders or just taking a seat on a train. It was like, life was a stage and we were the actors on display.
I don’t believe everyone we came across was staring lingeringly at us out of rudeness, perhaps just a culture shock, nonetheless it made me more and more self-aware. I dealt with my emotions in phases, first self-awareness, then self-consciousness, next anger until finally I released and came back to myself.
I can not control the ignorance of others, let alone the way they act towards me or my relationship. All I can do is conquer internally, the way I allow those actions to make me feel.
(Physical, mental, emotional) Language.
The language of others will never define you.
Be at home with yourself.
-I am at home with myself.
There are so many interracial traveling couples with the same questions and concerns regarding what to expect. The thing is, you never know what can occur on your travels, who you might meet and how they might treat you. I experienced a few negative situations yes, but the positive people we encountered far outweighed the negative and those are the memories we carry with us. We can never allow our fear of how others see us to stop us from doing what we love. That would just be giving in to the ignorance. Hold your color and your lover proud and trot the globe together with your heads held high. Only through diligence and exposure can we conquer the xenophobia/racism that shadows humanity. Let’s change this world together, one adventure at a time. -T
All my life I thought I knew myself. That self, that indentured, stagnant, forcibly shaped stance (no dance) of limited imagination.
It didn’t bother me, until it did.
And when it did, the vexation coagulated inside of me.
Pale pigments boisterous, blistering in the sun.
Contrived ignorance for the breadth of humanity… all of a sudden, the heart stops.
No longer oneness, thought above this. Now less than one, until nothing.
Such calamity when I grew toward the Millennium, seeing that what was taught was fallacy.
No, malicious. Bitter sentiment…but toward what?
I had to strip my identity to find my identity.
I am not color, I am not feminine nor masculine.
I am not Adam, I am atom.
I am free, I am me, and I am one.
Throughout my life I have been privileged by society. I am a white male living in the United States…
My father was a very humble and earthly man. Not once in my life did I ever hear him use a derogatory word or phrase, nor treat any person or being less than himself. He wasn’t holding back anything either; he was genuinely one with all people. Unfortunately, he was the only man in my life that was like this, and left this world before having the opportunity to meet my fiancé.
Discrimination, regardless of race, color, religion or political outlook has loomed in the backdrop of my youth. It always bothered me; it irritated and frustrated me, but personally it never reached my heart, causing me suffering of any kind. I never felt belittled or at the center of accusation.
Up until this year I let everything I heard go unheard. I tried for twenty years to say to myself, “these men come from a different era, they will not change.’’ I started to really remember things and it finally began to hurt me in a whole new way. I remember growing up in Pennsylvania and hearing privileged, white male children constantly saying things that they themselves did not understand. Things their fathers must have said or taught them. Hate and discrimination taught before adolescence.
In 2015 I took a five month trip by myself across all of Europe, Scandinavia and the UK. On this journey I exposed myself to a multitude of cultures and identities. But I didn’t really “see” the effect of discrimination until I returned the winter of 2017 with my fiancé. I honestly thought for the last ten years that interracial couples were equally granted respect from society, at least throughout the United States and Europe. I also thought that newly liberated countries in the EU would be less xenophobic and more progressive. How ignorant I was until my eyes truly opened. Europe this winter posed many challenges that I was unaware Tyema and I would ever face, in the developed world.
When Tyema eventually told me what was said to her in The Netherlands, I first was furious and frustrated. I wanted to find that individual and shake some violent sense into him. After talking, reflecting and moving forward I realized that this type of outlook would neither further ourselves in a positive way nor change the mindset of those helpless individuals. I came to understand throughout the course of our journey there will always be those people that filter through our lives that have some type of miserable bias or backward, warped mentality. To fall into it and let it bother either one of us allows these individuals to feel right or just. Our best stance to fight off this egocentric, bigoted thinking is to keep moving forward. To never stop showing the world who and what we are together. To never be afraid to love, show love, express love, be love. The rest of the world will someday see transparency, even if we still are decades from full autonomy.
Whether you are an interracial couple, in a same sex relationship, an age gap partnership, or any other type of relationship that may endure discrimination, do not forget who you are and what your love means to you. Never fear travel and adventure because of what someone else may think or say. Never backdown or hide from yourselves. This world is constantly morphing, changing, growing and expanding. It is time for all of us to become one with the Earth and ourselves again. -G