Wednesday, June 7, 2006

Abstractions, or Let Me See Your ID

Every abstraction is rooted in material reality. Every thought in my head grows out of an organic, physical body. There would be no dream if there were not first a trunk and limbs encasing this vast network of blood and water. The mind, the brain, is only secondary, after the ball of food in my stomach, the tug of sperm in my testicles, the air in my intestines, the raised hairs on my back from a lover’s touch.

Not having the privilege of (racial) minority status, I lumber away, walking along my own tightrope of identity as a white man living in the United States, feeling more at home only in flight, particularly beyond the parameters of (my) Americaness. This “I”—Third World singular—raised on a farm by emotionally and physically abusive parents—from this family on our own tightrope called “the poverty line”—de-evolves quite nicely from white (Anglo-Saxon), well educated, urban-dwelling (Protestant-raised) male to pure Jew—the abstracted Wanderer, mestizo, Rom, Kurd, Afghan woman beneath the veil, African American woman, Native American; that is to say, queer. I become not only outcast from my own people(s), but I become also Outcast as type, as paradigm, as paragon, so much so that even other queers cannot recognize my own queerness.

I am not recognized not only for who I am, but I end up living up to the stereotype of the insider as well: xenophobic, homophobic, racist white (moneyed) male in a position of power even though I remain completely outside that reality even as such racist and homophobic epithets drip from my angry lips. They write me off as “insider,” prompting me to write them off as merely “other.”

Yet I remain haunted by my own knowledge that I am more Other than they (than Thou), and always I am lessened by this Otherness that does not bind me to Others but only forces me back into the role of insider to bash and erect barriers between me and those Others.

Because of the color or my skin (the color of my sin, the sins of my color, the sins of my skin), I am always in the process of various “coming outs.” I must always reveal, designate, explicate the several factors that set me apart in the first place. I am forced—as a white man—to come out as someone raised on a farm below the poverty line by uneducated parents who physically abused me and with whom I have not had contact for over fifteen years. I come out as an American who spends a huge chunk of time outside the Western Hemisphere and actually speaks (or at least has studied and actually attempts to speak) the languages of the countries where I have resided. (There's nothing ugly about this American!)

But I am not accepted for my differences. No one is. Especially here, in this country I call home.

There is a fine line between clichés & stereotypes and the reality on which those clichés and stereotypes are based.

Let me be your cliché. Can I borrow your credit card?

No comments:

Post a Comment