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Mirror, Mirror, on the wall…

September 14, 2011

Sometimes, mirrors are really bad for me.

I don’t mean that in the sense that some people do, that mirrors trigger all sorts of negative reactions with respect to body weight and image, etc., but every so often, looking in a mirror does trigger a sort of internal crisis. And so it was earlier tonight, that looking in the mirror caused a thought that has for the most part stayed underneath the surface to burst forth once again…

I am black, and I will always be so.

I think the fact that I don’t have these thoughts so frequently is progress. The fact that I don’t panic anymore (I just feel it rumbling…as if it’s coming from the distance) is progress. And the fact that the despair that does well up is aimed at something completely different…is progress.

For one thing, I’m not despairing about my appearance. That’s one thing I actually think fencing has helped a lot with. John G-W’s sentiments about how yoga helped him improve his relationship to his own body and physicality is kinda similar. I’m definitely not strong, but I’m not weak either. Even more, I know that if I put effort and energy into training, then it will produce results quickly. I have speed, agility. And I can see it in my calves. They aren’t African sprinter calves, but they serve me well.

This has spread to appreciation elsewhere. I actually can see a lot of beauty in all sorts of skin tones and complexions, but I really think mine fits me.

…so, that’s not where the despair sometimes pokes through. Instead, where the personal crisis comes is in realizing that I am black in society, and that will never change. No matter what I do, no matter if I’m too tired to deal with it, I am situated at the intersection of various privileges (class, educational attainment, etc.,) and oppressions (race, religious background, sexuality, etc.,) and some of these can never be hidden. I can never turn it off, or be silent to avoid anyone noticing.

In any case, the moment has passed, so now I’m back to my normal, chill self.


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