May 202009

My recent great-grandparents were slaves in Russia, and I was raised below the poverty line.  But those facts about me are invisible to the eye. They are irrelevant in any social situation.

I have raised my head from my pillow, every morning of my life, in a body that is the wrong sex. But neither you nor the cop on the beat can tell that something is wrong with me, and while it’s very obvious to any outsider that my honorific is "Ms", or "Ma’m," nothing particular about me is a clue that I’d rather be a "Mr."

I’ve spent my life in a battle against the ubiquity of Xtianity, and every church I see feels like a personal affront on some days. But people still say "god bless you" when I sneeze, because atheism is another invisible othering.

I’m bisexual– lesbians don’t trust me, and straight men think I might be an easy lay. But that’s only If I make my sexuality known. The driver of the  bus I commute on doesn’t assess me for gender preferences when I get on the bus.

We all have these things that separate us from the herd. But not all of us live with characteristics that separate the herd from us.

Nothing about me causes cops to stop me on the street for the crime of walking with melanin, as Seeking Avalon once put it. When I walk into a fancy department store with my Hispanic friend, she’s the one that gets the once-over, not me– despite the fact that she can afford to buy there and I can’t. I look like the default, I am accepted as the default, and I have the benefits of that default assumption.

I can be visibly non-default, sure. I lived in black leather and mohawk for a good long while, and got all the nervous reactions that come with that. But I let the mo grow out, and switched to blazers and jeans the moment it suited me.

I am "othered" as we now like to call it, six ways from Sunday. There’s not one day that I don’t wince at something, some assumption, someone else might never notice. But here’s the difference; there is not one day in my life, when a stranger winces at me, unless I choose to make myself winceable. My friends of color don’t get to switch out their brown, copper, or blue-black skins for pink ones. Ever.

This is something that seems to be incredibly difficult for white people to get. The hopeless, heartless, relentless thing about racism isn’t that a POC feels different on the inside; it’s she looks, whether she wants to or not ,different on the outside. It’s that her color is a flag that will wave high, and there’s no way to lower the flagpole.

I can claim special snowflake status, sure, but everyone can claim that very same status

I know people that wake up in the wrong body, that fight against the tide of religion, that are poor, and gay, or bi, or trans, or in some other way– othered. AND OF COLOR. A straw that can break a camel’s back.

Intersectionality, we’re all soaking in it.

(I was bemoaning the way non of my race metas ever got finished. So I finished one.)

 Posted May 20, 2009

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