A lot of people have preconceived notions about who I am without even asking. They assume I like watermelon or that I listen to rap or that my hair isn’t real. If I walk into a room and I’m the only black person, I usually never notice until someone else points it out first. I just don’t think about stuff like that.
Before school was out for Thanksgiving break, I found a post in the green room for the CBS Diversity Institute. It’s a 12-week writing program for “people of color.”
Besides the basic application and a writing sample, they want a letter of interest. They want to know why I’m interested in the program and what it is like being a “writer of color.”
Can we rewind a little bit?
When I was growing up, I was discriminated against a lot in some of most devastating ways. I wasn’t allowed in an Asian friend’s house because her father “didn’t know anything about black people.” And once at the playground, a ball rolled to me by accident and upon picking it up to throw it back to its owners I was told, “don’t touch our ball you nigger.”
It didn’t take me long to realize my skin came with a price. It was like I was born under some kind of burden to fight a fight that I didn’t start.
Even though people are racist, I don’t need anybody’s pity or special treatment. I don’t want to be held back in life because I’m black, but I don’t want to achieve because I’m black either. I want to be judged based on my ability and skills and talents. I want people to see me for my honesty and integrity and personality. Isn’t that what MLK wanted?
I guess my question is...what am I supposed to say in this letter? That I’m proud to be a black writer? Of course I am, but should it even matter what my skin color is at this point? I have been black for 28 years and if I live to be 100, that’s 72 more years of being black. Do I really need to keep dwelling on it?
Sometimes I feel like programs like this are the reason we can’t move forward. No one is ever going to get over anyone’s race if we keep putting ourselves in these closed off groups and jerking each other off. I know that I’m black. I have a mirror and I look at myself everyday. I’m well aware. But my skin doesn’t define me. My skin is not all that I am.
So I guess my questions for today are...do whites have to write essays about what it’s like to be white? If I were white, would I not be able to apply for this program? Is this a form of “reversed discrimination?” Do other minorities feel the same way I do?
*photo from http://www.henkeldiversity.com/tag/equality
Monday, November 28, 2011
As of today I have two jobs and I'm a part-time student - hardly what I would call lazy - but I don't cook or do housework so she finds fault with me.
I also never seem to finish anything I start and she reminds me of that every chance she gets...
"Why haven't you finished that story?"
"I thought you said you'd be done with college last year, what happened?"
"I thought you said you were going to clean your room today?"
"How come you stopped making videos?"
"Why didn't you just join the Army?"
I never have answers for her. As my list of unfinished projects grows, so does her disappointment. I feel as if I have become programmed to quit things before I'm done. I mean, who knows if I'll ever post to this blog again...
But that kind of attitude and thinking won't get my anywhere in life, right? Especially if I want to act and write. Those aren't things you can just do for a little while and expect to get anywhere. You have to throw yourself into it, face-first, every day and you can't quit or take a break. Serious people don't quit!
What I'm about to attempt will probably be the hardest thing I ever do in my life. It's my New Year's Resolution and what better time to start than today - right now. I am going to stop procrastinating and finish the things I start.
I'm going to finish college, the three novels I started, and I'm going to write and film a web series. Can I do all this in one year? I don't know but that would be really cool. I don't have a timeline yet. I'm not even sure how I'm going to structure this...but I think a public declaration will keep me accountable. I'm going to prove to my mom (and most importantly myself) that I am NOT lazy and I am capable of finishing other things besides desserts.
So...I've reached the end of this post and I'm not really sure if I'm supposed to say good-bye or see you later. I guess I'll just say see you later because good-bye seems so final and I said I would come back, didn't I?
Are there any other writers out there? Are you guys making New Year's Resolutions? Does anyone else have a mom like mine?