I’ve been trying to write this blog for weeks but don’t know how. I don’t know how to say I’m not white, straight, female, educated, some sort of financial class, divorced, single…not any of it. How can I be that?
How can I reduce myself down to something that sounds like a piece of blank paper from a copy machine? That description gives me no history or culture or things I have overcome, it gives me nothing but the blankness of privilege. I’ve chucked all that I say-I don’t have that job anymore or that stuff or all that security which was given to me just for showing up.
I didn’t earn it. I didn’t make the me which wanted to go to school or come to work early or raise my hand in class. I didn’t make the me who was born white or female or any of it. You didn’t make whatever you are either. We bare no responsibility for any of that. I slipped into this reality and have been walking around in it ever since wondering what to do with it.
Here’s how even thinking about this came to be-I was recently asked, “How do you identify?” I sat frozen in my conference room chair. I don’t understand the question, I said. I know it’s important but I don’t have an answer, I repeated. I wondered to myself am I supposed to identify? Then rather suddenly I got irritated. Why should I have to do that? I don’t have to say anything about myself.
All that internal angst and external confusion over a simple question. I was meeting with my new crew, a social justice organization dedicated to fairness for LGBTQ individuals. They brought me into the fold despite my reluctance and concern with the question they no doubt had been forced to answer dozens of times in their lives. Had I been entirely honest I would have answered, “I identify as privileged because I’ve never been asked that before.”
What else have I never been asked? I can’t know but my guess is the list is long. I’m not mad that I got put on the spot. I’m delighted and excited because now I know that answers are not so simple. That who I am can’t be nailed down so easily. That’s a good thing.
Those damn boxes don’t have me pegged, nor you? I resent the idea that there’s ever been anyone born who has nothing to contribute that can’t be summed up by a label. I suspect my colleagues know this very well.
I think I’m not checking those boxes anymore. If I run across such a form I’ll just sign it and leave it blank. If I am asked a question about who I am I will answer from the heart not demographically. I’ll tell how I feel and who I think I am and what I hope to give. That will have to do. I’ve been trying it and so far so good, although some people look a little confused and walk away. That’s fine.
Look, this shit is just math and science. Some people’s families were closer to the equator than others and they got more color to protect them from the suns rays, we all had hormonal and chemical compositions in our mother’s womb which determined our sexual orientation. This stuff is about how we were born, it affects us but it is not the color of our dreams.
Why do we need to be placed in groups based on such obvious facts. Haven’t we moved past it by now? Don’t we get that sorting us is to divide us and make it easier to sell us things including political agendas?
But-we can reject the sorters of the world early and often and have fun monkeying with their tiny minds. Sit with the others who have different boxes to check and learn something. Dance to the drum beat of every culture, identify as human, don’t be discouraged at that blank,white paper which claims to be you. Tell it to shove off or try this other idea I had of answering truthfully:
Race: Actually I have no idea-pinkish,brownish. Red in the summer.
Sex: Whenever I can so long as it’s honest and not reckless
Age: Mental or physical?
Religion: Really? Don’t get me started.
Income: Enough most of the time. How much do I actually need?
Orientation: Toward someone I love? (is this a trick question?)
There are people buying and people selling and those who just find the whole thing a big fancy farce. Write me down for the farce..but that’s the only box I’m checking because whoever you are and however you come to me–I want to sit by you and learn something and it won’t have to do with anything on a checklist.