Monday, March 30, 2009

Know Thyself

People ask me all the time how I'm so outgoing and how I can keep a smile on my face, even on rainy days. They ask me how I know how to talk to almost any person that walks by me. They tell me I'm a "people person." If only they knew.

Contrary to popular belief, I really don't like talking about myself that much. I will literally talk about anything else in the world during conversation with a stranger before I actually talk about me, Michael. Some may attribute that to low self-esteem or something of the sort, I don't know. I just really don't like talking about myself, especially not in a positive light. To be completely honest, I don't even like taking pictures. There's not much, if anything, to see.

For emphasis, I think I went for three years using MySpace without having an actual picture of myself up. I might look in the mirror twice daily, and that's when I get fresh in the morning and brush my teeth at night. Interestingly enough, an acquaintance once told me that I don't know how to take compliments from people. It's not so much that I don't know how, so much as I'm not used to receiving them.

It's strange, I guess. Up until just recently, I've always felt very out of place just about anywhere I've been. I supposedly speak too proper to be Black, but have features too Black to be Hispanic. I'm Hispanic but could never speak perfect Spanish; I can only roll my tongue on a good day. All the other men on both sides of my family are short and stocky, and I'm tall and lanky. White people don't seem to readily accept me because I still look like some sort of spook, or whatever it is they call us these days.

One thing I never really liked was my complexion. For some strange reason, many darker Black people always get the impression that I feel like I'm better than they are because I am light-skinned. That was only one of many things I got picked on for in school, but probably the one I hated the most. I used to spend many days outside during the summer in hopes of getting darker and blending in with everyone else at school and elsewhere, but to no avail. The only light-skinned people outside of my family I was ever really familiar with were on television or in movies, so it was years before I realized that they actually existed and my siblings and I weren't some kind of wretched curses.

Don't get me wrong: We received plenty of love at home. My parents did an amazing job raising us. It's just that society as a whole, even in the late 20th century, collectively had (and still has) a myopic vision as far as interracial relationships go. My mother recently told me that everyday was a struggle being married to my father, if nothing else because Black women abhorred her union with my father and made it no secret any time they saw them in public together. She said she had to be able to do everything twice, if not three times as well as a Hispanic lady. It's crazy, but that's probably why she can cook better soul food than 95% of the Black women I've ever come in contact with.

When it's all said and done, I guess I'm a decent individual. I just really don't like how people are so xenophobic when it comes to having to accept different types of people. "Know thyself," Socrates said. I suppose that's all I can do.

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