Becoming Abe

Mirror 2021-02-22 14:54:41

Until recently I immediately discounted all stories centering race. Whenever a headline with the subject appeared in my newsfeed I would instinctively shun the perspectives as coming from a person damaged in some other deeper way unaffixed to it, that race was being used yet again as a scapegoat.

In the past year or so is when I first felt open to the idea that the person and the perspective that I'd been shunning all along was not somebody else's, but rather my own.

It was I who had dealt with issues. It was me who had at the same time been on the more painful side of racism. And it was Abe who found the shame of being a chink in the Midwest too much that he decided to reject it. The people around me weren't making fun of me because of my background I told myself. They did it because there was something wrong with me. I could improve.

After that I didn't put care into things like school or classical-musicianship like the Asian stereotype. What I wanted was distance from that avatar. Instead I obsessed over what I deemed American. In high school this was sports, weightlifting, being funny and social, and a little bit of music (like having a favorite band). Once I got to college things like sports and weightlifting didn't matter because I found myself among a new crowd. Here it was all about culture... music, sensational adventures, drugs, and being a free-thinker. 

My college crowd was remarkably different than my high school one. There was an insignificant amount of racism there. But the strategy of relentlessly fitting in continued. By this time I forgot that I was even using such a strategy and assumed that it was who I was. An outdated algorithm was being reused in a different context and it didn't lead to good results.

I got most of what I wanted. I hung out with the type of people I had aspired to befriend. I basically lived the kind of life I wanted in superficial details, but what I wanted was never decided by myself because I had gone at it without reflection. Instead I'd allowed the same coping strategy of my child-self drive my desires.



 

More from Becoming Abe

Should I have had MJ's "Man in the Mirror" playing in the background as I read this? Interesting read. 
2021-02-22 18:09:49