Monday, December 21, 2009

What Am I?

Wow, it's amazing the types of things I think about when I actually have the time to sit and think about nothing. When you're a college student, especially one that is taking real classes in a real major, you always have things on your mind. Things I should be doing, things I could be reading, papers I could be starting, whatever. But when I get to the end of the semester and I take that last final, no matter how bad I fail, there is something special about that time. I have a period of weightlessness. It's a feeling that at first is very uncomfortable. I feel strange, why am I just sitting here, I must be missing something. Check my email, check my phone, calendar, notebook...nothing. Just time. I feel almost worthless. If I'm not working what am I doing? It may sound weird but the very thing I hate about college is the thing which gives me purpose, without it I am nothing. Eventually I get myself to understand that there actually is nothing to do academically. I technically have no classes, therefore nothing to study, read, or write. Great feeling. So what do I do? Meditate.

I just stop and block the world and listen to what's happening in my own head. Listen to music. One of my favorite things to do. Listen to music as in actually concentrate on the music. Not just have it playing as a soundtrack to my walk to class. Listen, hear the music, feel it, cherish it. It's amazing how much better it sounds when you give it your undivided attention. Anyway I'm getting off topic.

So sitting and thinking a thought comes to mind. A thought that I didn't know I had. I started reading a book a few days ago based on the black mentality and stuff like that. I haven't even gotten past the preface yet, but already I'm blown away by some of the things the author mentions. I can hardly do it justice but I will give it an earnest try. He begins with identity, speaking of both self-identification and perceived identity. He references the old riddle about the father and son in a car accident in which the father dies. When the son goes to the hospital the surgeon says I cannot operate, because he is my son. Most people wrestle with trying to figure out how the father can be simultaneously dead and in the operating room. They miss the obvious answer that the surgeon is his mom, and thus a woman. When you reveal the answer people always kick themselves for not thinking "outside the box" but honestly it takes careful thinking to actually vision a woman surgeon, not for any prejudice but just because your, or at least my, brain doesn't work that way.

Now another example. An alien comes to America and wants to know what it means to be an American. So he picks any citizen at random. What if that random citizen was black? The country would hiccup for just a second because for some reason black is not fundamentally American. You see it is strange because black people are the only people who do not have an identity. I mean that to say how do we identify culturally. Really think about it and when I say black people I mean black people, who as far as they can remember have lived in America. It really is a crazy concept. With white people there are the millions of different identities that they can choose be it Italian, German, Russian or whatever. But they can always just be American. The situation for Hispanics is different because they like black people are not thought of when you think American, however Hispanics all have their different identities, Puerto Rican, Colombian, Argentinian. Now black people. What do we have? If we are not American then what are we?

This is the point the brother makes in his preface. Black people have lived in America for hundreds of years. Longer than a lot of other groups, but we(or at least I) still don't feel like American is my primary identity. America is not black and since I'm black I am not America. I do live here and I do love my country but I am not America's native son. I thought this was incredibly deep thinking. I had never ever ever before thought of this. Who am I? Really? I mean I have a very strong sense of self. But like where do I align myself when lines are drawn?

I don't know. And maybe I never will, but at least I'm thinking.

No comments:

Post a Comment