Confusionist identity theory
Identity. Religious, cultural, sexual and political - a whole bunch of identities that continue to amaze me. My entire life has been spanned about who, what, why and how, the question words that ask identity. A practice common to human nature is the art of classifying things. Scientists and philosophers classified all types of animals and we ended up being Homo sapiens. In music we have Hip hop, R& b, Bebop, Classical and what not. I could go on with other classifications but at least you have an idea of the classification thing.
You might be wondering now where do I fit in all of this. I can only wonder
because now as a freshman in college I am faced with the pressure of having
to make personal decisions that have nothing to do with my parents or so I think
because just last week I signed up for a credit card, something they were not
too pleased about. They fussed and made me cancel it before I racked up bills
and …blah, blah, blah. Well enough tales you really want to know what
I am. Well I am Christian, again one of the decisions made for me before I was
born. I guess that’s where I can thank my college experience since my
mama’s not shouting my name to get in the car at 10:00am on Sunday morning.
These days I’m probably still in bed by then well not really, I still
go to church a personal decision I made but there is joy in doing things for
yourself and not for anyone. What does being Christian have to do with my little
confusionist theory of identity?
Here I am in college to educate myself to learn about how to fit into the “real world” and to grow from this experience. Learning about diversity, working with different types of people, accepting people of all kinds they say these are the things that will help make the world a better place. The other day I went out of town with my “Christian friends” while in the car we were discussing relationships of all sorts in relation to parental opinion and approval. We started talking about our types and our relationship experiences and that’s when it struck. We were five in the car all the other girls were fully Caucasian except one of them Emilia was half-Portuguese and the remaining half I don’t know but I was alone in the conversation I felt like I had been stabbed. My friend said she could not date any other race because she knew her parents would not approve I looked around in disbelief Emilia had been quiet for a while. Did she know this was coming? She’s the only one that can understand since her parents are not the same. It might seem normal to you white marries white, black does the same but how will you feel if you are not wanted especially when you are a “minority,” or its like you are kind of wanted but because one’s parents will not approve, that is not even a certainty because again people are judged based on their color. I beg to dissociate myself from such people that upset me without knowing. They mess with my mind and make life in a foreign place uncomfortable.
Now, this is where my education helps I’m not going to stereotype a
bunch of white Christian girls for my hurt. But maybe if we go back to five
hundred or so years ago when the white missionary brought his religion to the
continent of Africa we can understand identity clash. Do I start cursing the
day that man was willing to travel from one point to another? Or will I say
it is a good thing because they decided to give salvages salvation? I don’t
know. I had to educate myself on the parts my parents omitted I just had to
observe, my culture is unique just as is every culture and the thing about my
people is they definitely understand the art of improvisation. They understand
what works for them. Oh no! They don’t see a conflict in being multi-religious
if that is a word. On Sunday they go to church, the babalawo (divination priest)
gives protection through the rest of the week and on Friday go to the mosque.
Church services here are even different. The music, the drums, and the people
are so lifeless you wonder what they are there for.
I know, I know they say, “Home is where the heart is” it was a little bit different for me. I had tried so hard to fit in that I started to feel at home here but it just wasn’t the same. People never thought twice when they looked at me that was what I wanted right. My style of dressing, my accent, and other little things that make you stand out I had tried to blend and now I was going back to my motherland. I wanted to be as normal as possible even my family looked at me different the moment I landed, it was confusing. Now I’m back it is even worse my heart is separated by where I was born to love and where I had learned to love.
My culture is definitely not liberal in anyway. My parents have laid the rules
they don’t want somebody “different” you know when I said
black for black and white for white yes theirs is even worse they want someone
that speaks the same language as me, has the same religious values and all those
“the same” things that I might not even know about. Well I think
the key word there is “they want” I would like to say I don’t
F**king care. You know the worst part their parents didn’t want them married.
Why would they choose to push me to the edge with their control? Some times
I just lay down at night in a state of confusion I don’t have the art
of improvisation that my people have.
Who the hell am I? The sexuality thing, it doesn’t matter what I am; my tolerance level is definitely high. It’s not the same as that of my people, and by my people I mean friends from home and my family. Trying to explain or even having them come to the same level is like speaking Chinese to them they don’t understand, they don’t want to and won’t.
My identities don’t mix they conflict. Things are like black and white for me. I know there are in-betweens but you see that way everything just becomes gray (confusing). Maybe I should have just stayed where I was. Everything was black there but it felt good, never confusing. I’m sure there are great things here; the greatest thing about my experience is now I know. If not I would always wonder, “what’s it like?” I guess now I know what gray is like. It’s different from black but it’s worth knowing.
By Shola Alabi
Expected graduation: May 2007
Hometown: Lagos, Nigeria
This short story will fit appropriately in the text studied this semester Global Cultures: A Transnational Short Fiction Reader. The major theme of identity is drawn from personal experiences but also through conversation with other people in similar situations. Ihave come to a conclusion that anyone who takes more than a vacation to a foreign country and spends a considerable amount of time (say a year) will find themselves having similar thoughts.