Matheus Natan

A Monday in March Thinking About Race

PUBLISHED March 20, 2012

I have no voice.

Don’t get too deep and prophetic on me just yet, I’m referring to my literal voice. I’m sick and its left me. Wonder what this means for my Voice for the Actor class tomorrow :-/.

Power Street Theater’s first open mic is in eight days. Holy shit. I just realized that as I wrote it. I have to perform, that part is obvious but I don’t know with what yet. I could do the benefit monologue from when I did Saffronia the mulatto slave when I was like 13…


Cuffy girl, a one eyed man’s pleasure to be seeded, to and fro, I am not a soulless animal, to scream until my insides bleed, from the pain of no, I am not soulless, meandering through time on instincts alone, this flesh, my flesh, to be sold to this man, any man, with the highest bid, lay with this man, grimace under his touch, his loveless kisses, pray that God strikes us both dead, I from shame and he from depravity, can I not run off, escape this unlucky jaundiced fate, won’t love ever find me, whisk me away, hold me, release me, this flesh, my flesh, soft vessel of determined spirit that yearns with an ache in every waking moment to be free, no matter the cost, the sin, or do I take this softer road of a loveless existence and be that mistress to a one eyed man?

Or I could write one, which I really want to do but my writing is so PMS-y. Sometimes in moments of complete inspiration with just the right balance of euphoric mood and deep inner connection I write things that I would be proud to present. But a monologue about being biracial? That really has to be on point. The feelings I have about being mixed are very complex. And I don’t say that to sound deep or self-righteous. I say that because I totally mean it. Being bi-racial has shaped my life more than I think anyone realizes. Especially because I look more “white”. Most bi-racial people I meet, see or hear about look VERY mixed and you can tell almost exactly what they are.

With me my blackness is hidden more in the depths. I mirror someone of Egyptian, or Arabian or Hispanic decent. Perhaps Jewish or Italian. I’ve gotten Israeli plenty of times before, Spanish, Cuban and Dominican more than I can count. When I was younger, oddly enough, more people could tell that my mix was with black. But as I’ve gotten older and tamed my hair enough times with a straightener, I suppose, its less obvious. I wonder if its the hair. Did my long, dirty blonde ringlets signal some lineage apparent to the untrained eye? I miss that hair.

In any case, my ambiguity has allowed me to allude confining racial stereotypes. Perhaps if my hips and face were a bit wider and my hair a mild brown, more people would approach me speaking Spanish. Or if my hair were longer and a straight, silky black, and on the odd occasion I wrapped a scarf around my head people would eye me strangely at the airport. If I left the hair serums alone but paid more attention to the sun, ran a soft bristled brush over my head to slick my hair back and learned how to make that popping sound with my tongue against the roof of my mouth, maybe then white kids wouldn’t even think to expose themselves around me. Maybe. But I am me. And no one can define me, classify me, trace me, place me, decide for me who I am, and what that means for what I am not.

Including myself.

I belong to no one. No one group will lay full claim over me. I am the child everyone takes care of but no one claims. Pale and mild-mannered in comparison to the full-based beauty of the black community. Defiant and righteous in the face of the almost identity-less white community. I am a wall flower for racial tensions. I see everything. I sit, watch and listen. I can blend everywhere, always at least a little. Enough. I see people show themselves. And often it is ugly.

Within the confusion, few things are true. My hair is calm, my skin is light and my blood is black. Black and thick. The blood of survivors. The blood of a people who can’t be beaten or broken or blotted out. Hit me and my light skin may show your bruises. But cut me, and you will see my black blood spill out.

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