It kept depicting our community as fearful, as broken, as unsympathetic, when it couldn’t have been that simple, because some of the guys circling the roof were, like me, American-born teenagers, and therefore, more fluent in the country’s racial politic.
I came to feminism after coming to terms with the illogical defenses of my own psyche, the ways I tolerated when I should not have, the moments when I was active in the oppression of my own gender because I believed I was harder, more equipped.
In a freestyle on his seventeenth birthday he raps, “Tell your mommy and your daddy that you’re losing to a winner,” which hits close to home. Then, in an interview with Pigeons and Planes, he says, “I avoid talking about my race at all times because I think that’s corny,” which hits even closer.
I cannot separate the rise in crime rates, the formation of a carjacking ring, and the historical prevalence of car theft in Essex County from the classed inequality, distrust, and denial that characterizes my home in my memory.
Until our artistic culture changes from one of erasure, suppression, and tokenism to a space where complex identities, racial politics, and cultural histories both problematic and uplifting can be explored and engaged freely, we will not keep our peace.
In some ways, Harvard has reminded me of that burdensome, overbearing youth that shaped my conception of racial identity, because what struck me most when I arrived was the same hollow lack of non-youth.
But we cannot ignore the forces that may drive an interracial relationship: the tendency to fetishize and the desire to be accepted, the integration of stereotypes into illusion and the adoption of whiteness as ideal.