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VOL 3. NO. 32 Monday, August 20 - Sunday, August 26, 2001
The Autobiography Of An Ex-Mixed Man

C.D. Ellison, Courtesy Photo

Recent conversations allowed me to reflect carefully on the ancient pain of sitting on a cultural fence and being tugged between two factions. However, it was once just as difficult identifying the pain because society treats it as fairly taboo to even address. Such a subject deserves more candid discussion, I agree, to prove that those children of "bi-racial" descent are not confused individuals descending into emotional oblivion. Society "treats" the bi-racial question as one of absurd simplicity; it is perceived as the easy solution to the "application" and whether you have a right to select one or the "Other."

One can attest to its being more complicated than many can imagine - however, one made decisions long ago to resolve it. I would warn you, though, not to think of it as cut and dried as most would like to make it. Albeit one could be of mixed descent, one could see the world only through what the world wants that person to see ... and be. Arguably, this is not by choice, but dictated by the most stringent social realities.

It is safe to assume that it is probably the most bizarre and wrenching question in the intellectual and emotional pursuit of answers to the "race question." One should try to offer some more insight with much more candor and intelligence. Yet, my occasional attempts at offering a clearer picture of the "interracial" spectrum and the complicated issues set before it are only mirrored projections of my own impressions, as I have completed my crossing of obsolete paths of my separated cultural and "racially divided" backdrops. Ultimately, I was able to reveal to myself indiscernible truths.

An old, close, missing friend had once proposed to do such a thing at a time when certain issues became apparent to me, yet remained typically odd to the world. He was intent on dealing with a subject that was - and still is - excruciatingly inviolable for many minds, particularly those who attended our tiny, private, suburban high school. My associate would create a small, tightly knit group of students arranged by "mixed" African and Caucasian lineage, bonding them into a discussion session veiled as "literary circle" of racial nomads. We called it the "DuBois Society," dubbing it as a notable gesture to the father Pan-Africanist and Civil Rights leader whom himself was a mattisse.

Though pleased to witness and be part of such an effort, I was also subtly uncomfortable, since - at that time - I thought I had become astute as to who I was and where I stood in the larger scheme. Such a group would only violate my present convictions and so I silently plotted ways to avoid it, thus aiding in its final demise. It was not at all surprising that the others involved seemed equally strong in maintaining even the slightest semblance of their Black existence or the struggle where one is satisfied with being seen as such. The questions one might ask -- whether these were political, cultural or social motivations -- are too complex to answer. Yet, we knew there were few of our most obvious Black associates who attended initial meetings to reinforce those eerie feelings.

What may have been disturbing was not the proposal itself, but the idea to stir within each of us the belief that we saved some singular identity much similar to our unilaterally "racial" counterparts and that we could manage to co-exist in the public eye, a notion that turned into broken idealism. Maybe at that point in our lives we had all matured enough to realize that our amalgamated backgrounds did not leave the racial picture any less puzzling than it already was. Many in the group found our upbringings as derisively Black ... pasts clouded by the travesty of our foolish attempt to become human for once. The periphery of our existence was too Black, and unless the family setting was complete with mother and father, then our closest childhood and adolescent companions were anything but White. Closeness with our Black peers was formed through shared experiences and a mystic sense of 'racial' oneness forced upon us by 'racial' directives prescribed by the hatred of animosity towards the darker hue of my skin.

And sometimes I wondered if there was a basic assumption that I was Black like those I had grown so used to. I'm still a standout unshielded from the mysterious color complexities. Hence, I have to climb along the fence between two uneasy worlds and ways of thinking. Sometimes I'm more Black than White ... sometimes vice-versa. Sometimes, I am mistaken as a Latino. Other times, my thick, slightly broader nose will give it away, hence there are moments when I just have to live with the savage indignities of being a Black man. On occasion, I have also dealt with the humiliating ill-treatment of confused authorities, who never bothered to guess I was half a White man ...

Thus, I was aware, very early in my life, that society will do what society wants to do, ignorant of whatever choices I make and therefore I'm forced to simply see the world through the eyes of "a Black man."

And then I learned one day to just be myself and let the color of rage pass me by. Changes will gradually occur as I begin the difficult task of wishing racial attitudes to hell and consider myself a human being. Indeed, this is as unfortunate as it is unique. I recall once reading a poorly done article regarding the "interracial" experience. Instead of intelligently looking into the complexities of cultural two-ness and multiplicity, the author wove it into an ethnic sideshow. His observations portrayed us all as those with "confused" agendas who could jump the salty waters of racial strife at a moment's notice, complete the college application with profound ease and identify with Black as though it were only a matter of the music you listened to and the food you ate.

Focusing on the exact point of where my roots lay, is by itself, difficult enough and immeasurably far reaching. Such is the life of a child with two conflicting souls in search of peace, but is the child who symbolizes that final brink to total humanity. As a child I could sense that I was genuinely different from all the others - Black and White. That I somehow was the piece taking up two mammoth spaces in the human puzzle. I had to decide early on to ultimately live a choice and then accept it as a necessity. But, I later found that it really wasn't even necessary. I had always been afraid of being myself and thought to do less welcomed imminent self-destruction by the distant voices banging at soul and mind, the darkest scourges of a bi-polar being. Therefore, the question of my existence is not in the misguided assumption that I am an odd combination of two conflagrate factions. No - I am who I am, not whom other people think I am. Therefore, I would hope it is where those factions soon discover a passionate commonality.

C.D. Ellison is a contributing writer to Metro Connection. He can be reached at againstthegrain@metroconnection.info.

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