Living My Own Narratives

What does it mean for something to be mine and not yours? what “right” do I have to a space, a land, a boundary? Maybe I’m the “good” immigrant to them. The Ivy degree, no criminal record, “good addition” to this country checkboxes. I think about the first time someone told me that I should distinguish myself from American-born blacks. “You’re not like them,” they said. They were attempting to sell me what they thought of as a dream –no, a nightmare. An acceptance based on placing my foot on the throats of another; an unholy union with whiteness.

But I look into the mirror, and I see brown skin and eyes that are haunted by ancestors crying from unmarked graves and the bottoms of the oceans both east and west.

Is it love if they only love you if you present in particular ways? If your story is one they can exploit to vilify another? We cross oceans in search of a different story, and find ourselves forced into another we did not author. I became an “immigrant story” –which gets your family featured in the local paper under the title “The American Dream.” Sometimes though you dream of things and wake to find that they are empty of any promises that keep you whole. That’s when you realize the sacrifices it takes to pen your own story. To be you, not a trope, not a one size fits all existence.

Not the “good immigrant.”

But a person. A person who crossed an ocean in search of the room to build a different story.

3 thoughts on “Living My Own Narratives”

  1. I must admit I dont follow you this time. Is it you dont want to be put in a box labelled good Immigrant, no bad Immigrant but Immigrant, just so? Just an American, accepted as you are, with your own story? People like boxes. They like to put others into boxes. There is no escape, I think.

    1. that’s just not true. My entire academic research is about how people do NOT want to be boxed…there’s a whole range of people, especially black people, working towards fluidity of self.

  2. Of course, nobody wants to be boxed, but they themselves box others. It is the animal instinct, to decide e.g. who is dangerous for you and who not. In your Office you are boxed as well, maybe as reliable, or as occupying your mind too often with non-Company issues,, or being a chatter box or being a great Addition to parties… Please dont take all this personal. Have a great day.

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