Who Am I?
I am so many things, everyday bringing new pieces to my soul, and everyday putting other pieces to rest, to be a sleeping memory I carry with me wherever I walk.
And still, as with all things, it seems I am never “so many pieces that make more than a whole”. There are those few that do see me as more than whole, who see me as complicated, as a person who can never be fully known, not even to myself. Family, my lover, and my closest friends have the insight to see so much of me, a sight that is developed over time, with love, humility, and the skill of listening.
However, for many, who only have seconds to see me, see a small part, fragments of a piece.
Some who see me, for those few seconds, if not only one, see a “radical”.
If this is you. Your internalized oppressive ideology is showing. Let me explain.
There is no objective metric for “radical”. The word, the imposition, the identity, is a social construct and dependent, just as is beauty, in what the eye chooses to see. Radical is a subjective perception. And I use the word choose, because you do choose to see me as such, it is not entirely an unconscious action. You are not absolved of responsibility when you see through a racist, sexist, colonial, ableist lens that tells you, “he is radical”.
I’m not only speaking to you, the person who sees me #BlackLivesMatter and rolls their eyes to avoid seeing gunshots and deep wounds. I’m speaking to all of us, including myself. But don’t get it twisted. Oppression and power are directional. The stakes are higher when one is not on the side of the oppressor.
I don’t mind, really. Call me radical, give me a scarlet “R”. But what does make me pause is what that does to your psyche. It may not seem like it, but your imposition of an identity I didn’t ask for, is dangerous. What is insidious about how you see me suddenly, and see my brothers and sisters who share similar political positions, who are outspoken (shoutout to Free Speech – though our speech may be a bit too loud for you), and fight the 500 year old struggle, as “radical”, is that, yet again, you dehumanize us.
I don’t care if you disagree with me. Thats your autonomous choice. Go right ahead and do you. But when the word “radical” seeps into your mind, it blocks your ability to use a creative bounty of adjectives – you see a piece of me out of context. When you see me as “radical”, you reduce my body to a word, to however you imagine radical, to something less than human. In different sets of fashion, you clothe me as “danger”, “threatening”, to which then your dismissal or imagining of violence unto me becomes justified, because I am “radical”.
Let me explain further. I am as I am, and I might be radical, but I am so much more. Your colonial and epistemic psychic intrusion into who I am as a human disintegrates my loves and my hates and my ambivalence and my histories, because all that matters in the moment of radical is the bit of me that becomes how you have been socially trained to define me. I didn’t ask you to, you just did, and you may just chalk this up as an automatic neurological mechanism that you can’t stop, but that doesn’t undo the harm. The harm being that again I am but a shattered piece not worth considering as part of a bigger sculpture that has been crafted by me and my Madre and my Padre and my Ancestors and the forces of this world.
Let me explain further. I am complicated. See me as radical, but when you do, remind yourself, I am these things too –
I am a lover of books, of poems, of comics. I love Green Lantern (not the movie), the X-Men (both movies and comics), and I am a cinephile. Movies is where I get lost, good movies, bad movies, all movies. I like the taste of whiskey, especially Irish Whiskey, especial in coffee. I like to laugh with friends, with my lover, with my familia. I have fears, doubts, I have dreams. I like to hashtag and take hipster pictures for the gram. I like photography in general. I am lazy sometimes, want to just stay in bed all day and read books and be basic. Sometimes I wake up before dawn and am productive and hike and run and eat kale. And sometimes its all that with tortillas and frijoles and horchata instead. I march in protest, but before that I was probably watching a funny sketch on YouTube. I’m critical of capitalism but still love my Mac, have an iPhone which I use to retweet marxist feminists I follow. I like holding hands, I like hugs, speak in caliche, just hang at coffee shops, dance bachata at the club, have some tequila shots with friends or some red wine with dinner. I look up at the stars, sometimes with tears in my eyes as I think about my Abuela, sometimes with amazement that the Universe is so grand. I love my dog, I hate cats, I love barbecues, I hate soup. I say “problematic” 99 times a day, and say problematic things 999 times a day. Lord of the Rings is my shit, as is the Legend of Korra and Avatar cartoon. I still have my Yu-Gi-Oh deck, and sometimes when I think about my childhood I just wanna grab a toy and play outside. If I could, I’d eat a bagel for breakfast, a slice for lunch, and some steak for dinner, everyday (but like, health). I am a feminist, a decolonialist, a critical theorist, an ethnographer. I love Shakira and Hozier and J. Cole. I like winter and not too fond of high heat. I can go on for volumes, but I hope you get what I’m saying.
I love. I hate. I laugh. I scream. I whisper. I speak. I stay silent. I think. I feel. I say.
I am radical, by some standards. And if you read my words, hear my screams, see my fist, and label me radical, thats cool with me. But don’t forget, that radical is the sub-category. The first thing that should come to mind when you see me, in any way, in any space, is human.
Never forget it. Gracias.
With (radical) love,