Narrated version here
Just so y’all know, I had a completely different blog post planned for today, it had dead bodies in it, and why I stopped being a crime scene tech,
but then some things happened. You can catch up here, if you want…
Or not. Basically, I’ve been accused, twice in one week, by anonymous strangers of pretending to be something I’m not.
Specifically, I’ve been accused of pretending to be WoC/PoC.
Firstly. To be entirely clear, I’ve never claimed I’m PoC. I’ve said, repeatedly, that I’m PASSING PoC. I’m white-coded. I LOOK white. (I’m not, I’m mixed-race.)
There’s a difference there. The difference being that I don’t suffer the massive amount of prejudice and reprehensible behavior that anyone with a darker skin deals with on a moment-to-moment basis. I don’t go to bed afraid simply because my skin is dark, and I don’t worry about sending my son out into the world, worry that I won’t ever see him alive again because he has dark skin. (I worry for many other reasons, but by a fluke of weird genetics, I don’t have to worry for those reasons.)
It’s difficult to find and own your identity when you’re passing. When the world codes you as something you aren’t. When you know you have privilege and don’t get anywhere near the amount of hassle others with similar heritage get.
I know how many relatives of different races/darker skins I have, I’ve felt in the past twenty-four hours that maybe I should just post my ancestry files and my DNA test and my dental records to prove that I am descended from the people I say I am (all the people, including the Europeans I look like).
But why should I have to prove my own identity? I know who I am, most of the time, sometimes I wonder if I’m SANE pursuing writing as a career, but… aside from that, I know my people. (Lol, I may not talk to 90% of them anymore, but I do know who they are and what they look like.)
Oh, right… cause it hurts like fuck to be told that you’re pretending to be something you’re not. Last week, I had two separate encounters with people doing exactly that.
Someone from a different tribe called me white-eyes when I argued for Standing Rock and against DaPL. If you don’t know, that’s a racial and cultural slur directed at colonial oppressors of European descent. It’s used in a similar method as the N word is to black people.
I also had someone tell me that “you may call yourself PoC, but honey, you’re pretending’.
So, let’s look at that, shall we?
Definition of pretend
1: to give a false appearance of being, possessing, or performing pretend to be a psychiatrist>
2a : to make believe : feign pretended deafness>b : to claim, represent, or assert falsely <pretending an emotion he could not really feel>
1: to feign an action, part, or role especially in play
2: to put in a claim pretend to any particular expertise — Clive Barnes>
So here’s the thing.
IF I were pretending, anything at all, wouldn’t I be pretending to be cis-heterosexual-white-christian-abled?
Instead of claiming that I’m genderqueer-pansexual-mixed race-pagan-disabled?
What would motivate someone to pretend?
Humans are innately self-centered, we just are. I mean, many of us learn to do things for others that have no actual benefit to ourselves, thank goodness, but when we’re born, we’re incredibly self-centered just so we can survive. Ask any sleep-deprived parent.
Some people never grow past that self-centered motivation.
So, what in the name of all the gods would it benefit me–in the current world–to pretend to be things I’m not?
To be frank and open about my mixed heritage, and more, the pain I feel on a regular basis because I never quite fit in anywhere?
Saying I’m passing PoC/white-coded isn’t gonna get me published, only my writing, perseverance and a whole heaping bucket of luck is gonna do that. If anything, my honesty about my mixed ethnicity is a mark against my hopes for traditional publishing, even with the strong push for diversity we’re seeing.
It certainly hasn’t gotten me anything but more pain from both the PoC community AND the non-PoC community.
But you know, I do have two First Nations grandfathers from different tribes, I have a black/FN grandfather, and a Danish one, I have an English/Irish grandmother, and an Egyptian GGGgrandmother. I have slaves AND slave owners in my family tree. I have a Slovakian branch of the family, a Russian one, Polish and Swedish too, and I have a Portuguese Ggrandfather. My family were immigrants, they went all sorts of places before my closest ones landed here on North America, or they were indigenous to North America.
And I’m not going to pretend they don’t exist, that they didn’t have their own struggles and joys in life simply to make it easier for someone else to pigeon hole me. No matter how much pain it brings to me to hear that I’m pretending. (and you know what? That fucking hurt… still waiting on that apology by the way… not holding my breath of course).
Being honest about the fact that I’m pansexual isn’t gonna help me get published either. Nor sharing my struggles with being disabled. Having an asperger’s brain only helps me in publishing because I remember exactly which agents responded, which ones didn’t and which ones did it nicely.
Guess which ones get first crack at all my work from now on?
You know where I do pretend? Real. Life.
I smile and pretend to understand the social interactions going on around me quite frequently, because I don’t want to be ostracized.
I nod and smile at people through gritted teeth walking up this beastly switch back hill to get my kids from school every day, because I don’t want anyone to know exactly how much it hurts to walk that fucking hill.
I used to pretend to listen to some of my family’s bullshit, kinda glad I don’t pretend that anymore, though it’d be nice if they got their heads out of their asses.
I pretend one hell-of-a-lot more in real life than I ever do online.
Part of my ability to be free online is that I write under a pseudonym, I do that to protect my kids (I write about kink and I’m outspoken about a lot of things, it seemed prudent and I’m glad I do with the amount of death threats I get) and because I really don’t like my given name.
(I mean, seriously, I’m named after a soap opera actress and it was the MOST common name in my school, there were six kids with my name in a class of 30, I don’t like my name, so I don’t even use it IRL except on legal paperwork, I use a nickname.)
Other than that? I’m not pretending shit.
I’m me, and if that’s not enough, or too much for people who want to put me in a neat little box… well, their loss.
Oh… and have a kitten pic.
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