Maya Angelou (via peelsofpoetry)
A letter in response to people taking portraits of mixed people:
Please stop using my body as your proof of the end of racism. Stop using our faces as a symbol.
Our families are not visions of a post-racial world. They are microcosms of our society where race becomes an everyday negotiation. Racism does not end when parents have mixed babies. It continues in our bodies. I am the combination of histories that don’t make sense together. I am the continuation of erasure. My body is conflict; internalizing racism that doesn’t completely apply to me. Navigating a singular identity that neither of my parents can help me with. Power hierarchies are reflected in the language used to talk about my identity; white being the blank slate and brown as what colored me exotic.
My face is not the loving, diverse, “world to come”. I am here NOW and my experiences reflect the racism people of color are trudging through.
I come from colonization, from exoticization. And I come from love. This love, however, will not heal hundreds of years of hatred, violence, genocide, colonization. It’s more nuanced than that. So stop taking pictures of us like we are specimens and calling it “gorgeous”. Stop dissecting our backgrounds and consuming our bodies. Stop using us as your fucking hope. Hope is in organizing, in communities supporting each other. Hope is in solidarity and activism. Take responsibility for the world we live in now and do your own fucking work.
I felt the need to drag myself out of that swamp and wash myself down, to reverse the direction of humiliation by making myself knowing rather than known. Why is misrecognition by others so traumatizing? Is it that it reminds us we don’t recognize ourselves? There is a circularity to desire and identity, wherein the way you imagine you are desired is central to your identity and indeed your desire.