Sure, we all eat, shit, and die, but the idea that we are constantly connected by our humanity is crap.
My eyes are burning from a long night of scrolling Facebook. I curse my contacts and wonder why I haven’t committed to Lasik surgery. Then again, if my eyes are primarily being used for Facebook, which often is the case, I realize I deserve nothing. My dried jerky lenses land on a post where a white dude makes a hippy dippy comment about how we’re all the same, that if we set aside our differences — race, gender, sexual orientation — deep inside, we’re just people. A rage swells inside me as I think to myself, “Eat a bag of dicks, fuckface.”
Immediately, I imagine engaging in a “Game of Thrones” verbal spar; starting with a declaration of my family name, which would quickly inform my opponent of what he’s up against. Though Gomez, probably would be more confusing than helpful, since it’s the Latino version of Smith. Which Gomez? Gomez of Westeros? Gomez of Winterfell? Dorne? East or West? The one just south of Ashland? There’s six of them on that street alone. Anyway, I try to come up with a quick quip to cut him down faster than a Tyrion slap to a Joffrey’s face.
I want to scream that this idea of sameness is disgusting and false. Sure, we all eat, shit, and die, but the idea that we are constantly connected by our humanity is crap. The fact that we bleed the same color doesn’t stop police from killing black men. The fact that we all have mothers does not stop rapists from raping. The fact that we all need love does not stop dickheads from beating gay and trans people to death.
Only people cloaked in the privilege of whiteness could think it’s so simple.
I’m going to be real. I may be Korean Puerto Rican, but at the heart of it, I am white. I love all the things white: NPR, Taylor Swift, Toms, Starbucks, Target, Starbucks in Target. But, as much as I love white culture, I will never be white because I will never be able to forget that I am brown.
I was reminded of this at 5 years old, sitting in a grocery cart alone as my mom went to retrieve a box of Frosted Flakes. Two white women approached my cart and ran their hands down my long straight black hair wondering where I was from. When I started crying, my mother ran toward me shooing them away. They scurried along whispering about how my mother was “rude.”
Then, there was the time I was sitting on the stairs of my high school and a white woman approached me to ask, “What are you?” When I replied that I was Korean and Puerto Rican, she then spent 20 minutes trying to convince me that I was not and shouldn’t be ashamed of my “blackness,” even though I wasn’t black.
If we speed it up to my adult life we can discuss the following:
- The number of times that I’ve been asked if I like eating dogs.
- How many grown men have called me “China Girl” and “Gook” or asked me to “Love them long time,” even when I was only 13 years old.
- When someone was obsessed with putting notes in my high school locker for weeks stating that I was an n***** lover and that Puerto Ricans were rape babies from Spaniards assaulting African women.
- The number of dudes who have fetishized me because of my racial makeup and said I probably would be “spicy” in bed, not knowing how dead-eyed and disinterested I can also be.
- The day when a man claimed that “my people” owed him a rooster because his died in a cock fight in Puerto Rico. When he realized I was mixed race, he offered to pay me to be a ring girl at a boxing match where I could wear a bikini because “guys were really going to love my unusual shape.” He even offered to pay more if I’d hula hoop since I also looked Hawaiian. What?? That doesn’t even make any sense and did I mention that I was at work during all of this?
- And how every single day of my last 43 years, someone has asked me what I am or where I’m from.
Regardless of these microaggressions, I have learned to love what I am. And believe me, in white America, I had to learn to love it. I love the yellowy tone of my brown skin against my black frizzy hair. I love the fact that I can’t decide whether Koreans are brown people because they’re pretty pale. I even love when someone calls me China Girl, which always makes me laugh, because why are they doing that?!
Maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but I would argue that prioritizing acceptance of our diversity, to allow folks to be free and not oppressed in their differences, seems more important to me than categorizing everyone as the same. Let’s celebrate our histories and culture rather than trying to force everyone into one boring ass homogenized society. Think about it. If we didn’t learn from each other’s differences and help meet each other’s needs, we wouldn’t have Tex Mex or white people eating kimchi on hot dogs, which I’m still not sure I’m OK with, but whatever.
My eyes blink faster, harder as they try to grab any moisture onto my contacts. I imagine mustering up my inner Tyrion and writing, “Eat a big bag of dicks served with testicle tartar topped with poo-poo caviar, sir.”
I think about White Dude sitting behind his computer, giving himself a self-congratulatory pat on the back for solving all the problems concerning race in that single post today. He’s probably shoveling a spoonful of free trade organic grain-free granola in his mouth and smiling, when it hits me: Just as I can’t separate my race from the colored lens of how I see the world, neither can he. So, FINE, I’ll leave him be for now, but next time, I won’t let him off so easy.
Elizabeth Gomez is a comedian, writer, and a free bleeder. She is the founding writer of Drinkers with Writing Problems, cast member of the Kates, founder of the Windy City Rollers, and possibly the reason your parents broke up.