I’m still in awe over how many people from all over the world come in to my work.
Served a guy that was a better looking version of Eita, and his friend was like, “Omg, your Japanese is so great!”
And I was like, “I just asked your name.”
Perfect timing too, because yesterday I came home from work and had to deal with father fallout.
Just a quick update -
I ended up getting the apartment. Will be rooming with two incredible artists that were gracious enough to help me with advertising the event I threw on campus.
One thing that I notice since relocating to the West is the social pressure (maybe even a requirement?) to define who, how, and why you are the person you are. Sometimes you can’t have a simple conversation without taking three minutes to disclose all of your identities and current life practices. Needless to say that is a trend in most queer/trans spaces. The hyper-performance of identification satisfies the individual desire to feel defined and established, along with comfortably placing yourself within the structures we live under. And this definitely applies to gender discourses as well.
But— I realize how both my physical and mental colonization contributes to my situation: The context in which I was brought up (Middle East) is diametrically opposed to the one I am living in now (New York City). The same goes for the language and culture I currently consume. (I talk about these issues more on my personal tumblr: hysthetics.com). I have let the Western and White queer and trans discourses of gender somehow sneak their way into my life. I now realize that me seeking validation in identifying within this system not only perpetuates colonialism and cultural imperialism, it also halts me from carrying my gender to it’s full potential. Sadly however, when I tell people that I don’t really identify as anything, it ignites confusion and anxieties on their end and I can see from their reactions that they would much rather have a definite, documentable answer from me. (Keep in mind that my personal identification, or the lack thereof, has nothing to do with how I am treated and read in the world but that is a discussion for another article.)
And that is the basic practice of colonialism— Seeing something new, and something that does not belong to you and demanding access and documentation per your values and practices.
Maybe I have taken in the Western individualistic self-branding idea and reverted it at exponential levels, or I simply do not get the discourse, but my answer to this uncomfortable state of being is to say that my gender is my gender and it can’t be compared, situated, or categorized with anyone else’s. When I identify the way I identify currently is simply an enactment of the politics of the self- because frankly I don’t see any other alternative that makes sense to me right now.
No longer have a microwave, so I’m just drowning everything in tapatio.
We midwifed the dead, carried each body tenderly from this world to the next without risking contamination; always in two worlds at once, poised between, we kept our balance on those slippery paths between life and death.
Then the soldiers came, the priests came, christened us joyas, jewels, laughing at how our tribes treated us—sodomites, nefando pecados, mujerados—as treasures. Treasures? They called us monsters. Joys was a joke. But we had other names before that: aqi, coia, cuit, uluqui, endearments only the ancestors remembered.
In the missions, we were stripped bared, whipped, made to sweep the plaza for days, pointed at, cursed. “In the south, we fed your kind to our dogs,” soldiers grinned, and stroked the heads of their mastiffs.
Worst of all, threatened with beatings, our husbands disowned us, children grew to fear us, and our sisters, oh our sisters turned us away.
Some of us fled into the mountains, died alone. Some found new homes in bands not yet captured by soldiers or starvation, tried to forget the violations. Some of us, unable to escape the missions, hid amongst the men, passed as just men, tried to whisper our knowledge to a few survivors, pass on the negotiations with death which life requires.
We weren’t trying to save ourselves. We were trying to save the world.
But we disappeared, murdered or heartbroken, and the end of the world came anyway.
When all of the burying baskets and digging sticks were burnt, when only the shame remained with its stench of fear, we became jotos. When our names forgotten, our responsibilities forgotten, when we lost the gift of swimming in that liquid space between life and death, we became jotos. If our mothers fought to protect us, they were called joteras. If our names were recorded by history, it was only to reiterate our sins. If our bodies survived, our spirits were poisoned by ignorance and grief.
How strange it is, now, to hear young voices calling to us. Who remembers us? Who pulls us, forgotten, from beneath melted adobe and groomed golf courses and asp halted freeways, asks for our help, rekindles the work of our lives? Who takes up the task of weaving soul to body, carrying the dead from one world to the next, who bears the two halves of spirit in the whole vessel of one body?
Where have you been? Why have you waited so long? How did you ever find us? Buried under words like joto, like joya, under whips and lies? And what do you call us now?
Never mind, little ones. Never mind. You are here now, at last. Come close. Listen. We have so much work to do.
—Deborah A. Miranda - Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir (via andywear)