lone wolf pt.2
// lone wolves are typically female. some are driven from their pack. some leave to create their own; as such, these lone wolves may be stronger, more aggressive and far more dangerous than the average wolf that is a member of a pack //
“What’s your ethnic background?”
“I don’t talk about that at work.”
“Because I don’t have to.”
Consciously choosing to remain a racial outsider allowed me to see the American racial order for what it was. Toxic and superficial. But of course my choice to leave identity politics behind didn’t stop or prohibit others from labeling me and telling me how I should act or behave. An incorrect assumption about my background would often trigger a deeply rooted aggression of self-preservation– a rage only understood by those who have had their identity held hostage by others for political gain time and again. Eventually, I realized how others perceived me had nothing to do with who I actually was; it had to do more with who they were. This knowledge made me feel powerful.
Over time, I became hyper aware of how others unconsciously racialized my body. Most interactions usually involve a game of role play, where people would base their behavior towards me on their perception of who they think I am. “Yo girl - how you doin?. "Hola mamacita". People would act and speak in an embarassingly stereotypical way assuming I would reciprocate or mirror their actions, thereby confirming their biases. Replying, "I'm good" or "Hey Papi" would give them the satisfaction that their beliefs about my background are true and that they chose the correct ethnic script to follow.
“What kind of dog is that?”.
“I don’t know, hard to tell. Looks like a mutt.”
“Well...it definitely has some German Shepherd...or maybe Golden Retriever?”
On a daily basis, I watch as others try to classify me like a dog breed. It begins with a handshake, followed by a piercing gaze. I notice their eyes scan my face, my hair, my clothing in search of clues. Then I watch their minds quickly go to work as they categorize each detail. Sometimes there is an uncomfortable silence and a sense of distrust. And other times the conclusions are quick– their speech becomes overly affected, their face takes a certain form, and their body starts to perform, fully expecting me to justify their assumptions on who I am culturally. And other times, there’s just the blunt questioning of my origin: “What are you?”
“What do you mean you’re ‘just mixed’? Do you even know your background?”
Yes. I do know. I just don’t find a need to break myself down into halves, quarters or thirds…since doing so would not really tell you anything about who I am as a person.
“Mixed people are not the original, they are just mixed-up parts of the originals.”
Homie. Nothing is original. And shame on you if you think otherwise.
To describe my background, I choose to use a word that is traditionally associated with mutt breeds, hybrid plants, or the unnatural. Mixed. I choose to use this word because it flies in the face of what I consider to be a celebration of inbreeding, religious homogeneity, and the hive-mind. Honestly though, being ‘mixed’ only has a negative connotation if you think certain things should remain separate. But if you don’t believe in this socially constructed lie, if you think that mixing cultures, ancestors, colors, lives, stories and experiences lead to creating new beginnings– and that this is in fact a beautiful thing, una raza cósmica, in fact– then why wouldn’t you state the obvious? Here’s looking at you, Vasconcelos.
To this day, I understand that while my freedom means being alone (in the tribal sense) and without many cultural cues to follow, I also realize that being unattached gives me the ability to form multiple opposing relations, as well as create my own. Without belonging to a fixed identity group, I can ally myself however I like without compromising my individuality. In other words, I can love you and hear you out– without feeling the need to be exactly like you.
I believe that when you constantly seek the attention and approval of others, you give up power. You give others some sort of claim over your life. It becomes too easy for one word of approval to take you to the highest of highs, while a word of disapproval can utterly destroy you. You end up living in a world of fear, afraid to say what you really think, or act upon how you feel. Whether you want to believe it or not, your actions stop becoming your own and instead become based on the opinions of others and how they might react. Whether you like to admit it or not, your life is controlled and manipulated, and you agree to it all for the sake of group safety and a sense of “belonging”.
“You wanna go out?”
After a long day spent in a society that endlessly tries to negotiate my identity to use for its own political gain, I enjoy the thought of being alone. It's tiring being around people who don't know how to relate to you. When nearly every human interaction is like this, you just want to be away from people. I can't wait to be alone.
Solitude. Nature is my church. That space where you are suspended in time and place...and for a moment you can just ‘be’ in the world. Free of language, signifiers and meaning. Just a body, a mind, an energy, passing through. In a private space, I have come to appreciate that there are no expectations or assumptions on how I should act or behave. I am free to just live. In a world like this, being alone gets a bad rap. I find that it’s absolutely necessary.
I am fiercely my own person– third generation in a growing line of people who chose to break from the binary, the pack and start their own. I am not black. I am not white. I am not you, nor he nor she. I am not mono-racial, nor mono-ethnic. I am not divided into halves, third, quarters - I am whole. Wholly original and unoriginal. And so is everyone else.
In the end, I understand and accept my solitude. I believe this struggle to stay the course– to navigate this hostile environment without a dominant pack for so many years– has given me the strength to search out and find the other lone individuals who have resisted the binary pull and also yearn to be seen for who they are. I know that we will somehow find each other, and create our own pack, not centered on racial or cultural identity, but on character, free thought and genuine love and respect for each others differences. It will be a group that allows us to not just survive apart, but thrive together.
We will be the strongest of them all.
lone wolf part 1 can be read here.