I took some liberties with this series of pieces. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to say nor what I was going to say. All I knew was that I needed to start saying something. Thank you all for your time and attention. You can read Part One here and Part Two Here.
Grounded in the Clouds
Or just high af.
Either way, better to overstand than understand.
Evangelicals are not unaware, they’re just scared out of their minds, of everything.
Though mostly, scared of their own shadows.
That abyss of possibility where forgiveness isn’t free but earned.
It’s been over 10 years since I’ve celebrated any of the Christian holidays.
Like a drop of chocolate in milk that refuses to dilute, it feels weird to try.
The last holiday attempted ended in a lively debate about the importance of sustainable practices at production scale. I was reminded that no matter the pertinence of my words, they were only entertainment.
This holiday, like the others, there was no one but me.
Though were fireworks, and I was home for Christmas.
So that’s it, the end of the story.
Everyone goes home happy.
No one is in any type of cage.
The only cages that exist are in our minds.
The nightmare is to watch as those who mis-raised you, aspire to fix their mistakes on the derivative of their purchase, your child.
To watch people you were told to love as a child, prey upon your own seed while their community says that it is for the best you are kept at bay.
The nightmare is to hold these truths along with the human desire to belong, to have a mother and father, to have a family.
To be told that it could all be yours, if you would just admit that you were wrong, and needed medication.
The first time I was arrested for disorderly conduct, I waited outside the house, arms around my knees.
Earlier, conversation had devolved into an unanswerable question, and the male had had enough of it.
I was to leave the house, with police escorts like customer service attendants.
Arrested twice at their behest, I slapped the female (after the police had been called already), spit in the male’s face, and pushed him down, once. This wasn’t all in one event, mind you.
The female would always go into convulsions, saying she had no choice and that what she was doing hurt her more than me, and my lack of future employment.
The male would act like it was just the handling of business—taking out the trash.
And the police would be shitty conversationalists on the ride downtown.
Eventually, I learned to talk my way out of being arrested.
Because the cops being called wasn’t gonna to stop.
An evangelical family is one thing. It is when the community takes on the lesser degree of their values that the story unravels.
Shortly after the above video of me was recorded, an email was sent out by another community organizer stating that I was mentally and emotionally unstable.
The trope was too easy to feed, the ground had already been sown such seeds.
Years earlier I helped lay groundwork for an organization that would host an impromptu acoustic concert from Rage Against the Machine outside of the Republican National Convention.
Soon after which, they realized event organization wouldn’t pay their bills, like video production could.
I had done some work for them in this area, and it was easier to ignore that, as diversity wasn’t mandatory 10 years ago.
“We don’t want you here.”
Years later, caught unaware, I was approached by another local organizer at a protest.
There was no reason to argue.
I had done my work a few days earlier interviewing a group, one of who would later be convicted and imprisoned for shooting up the protest.
The footage was used in the court proceedings. The journalist who recorded this video was subpoenaed and enabled to provide contextual details to the jury. Apparently I am referred to as “the man in the parka” by court documents.
The first time I left for Colombia, I attended a community event with an old friend the evening before leaving.
We both saw people we knew, to one of whom I wanted to apologize.
They were friends with the people who had “incited” a few social media outbursts on my part.
Though I respected their work, and what they were doing.
I wanted to say as much while acknowledging my own words and actions elsewhere. It was more a matter of closure for myself, they identified as part of a community to which I will forever feel an affinity.
Mestizo or not, my brown skin does not come from Europe, and it is the way people have most quickly identified me. My learning to love my brown skin is inseparable from my learning to respect this earth, her inhabitants, and the quagmires we’ve built for ourselves.
Weeks later, in Cali, I received a friend request from this individual to whom I had apologized.
I accepted, and soon found a comment made on a post lamenting the use of mental illness as cover for GoFundMe’s and toxic behavior.
“I unblocked you and added you back just so I could call you a dick for this sort of fucking bullshit post. You are an asshole and I wish you would stay out of our community. How are you going to come at people who are admiring their own vulnerability? It’s a new level of scumbag.” — Early Fan
They were right.
I had made my mark, and it was time to leave.
Surviving the white-supremacist nightmare is not healing, and without healing, one is only destined to continue the errors, albeit, in another form.
I don’t know why I have always had such drive to do differently than I saw.
It would have been so easy to agree with my high school friends, that skin color doesn’t matter.
To believe them when they said that their jokes weren’t about me.
Dr. Token Brownie
I was never shy about wanting a therapist, and preferably a person of color.
Finally, my captors had found someone. We needed to work through things.
He was a professional with an advanced degree. He was brown-skinned and he was a Christian.
Beggars can’t be choosers, right?
He put forth an ornate theory that came down to the fact that I needed to recognize how much these white people loved me, and stop treating them so poorly.
Eventually I was asked to leave the sessions, as the therapist wanted to talk to them about the health of their sex life.
It was at this point that I abandoned any hope of their meaningful participation in my life.
They became assets of extreme liability, and I accepted that I have never had parents.
I had owners with the competency of children, fantasizing about adolescence.
In 2006, I submitted myself to a mental health examination through a local clinic connected to the University.
The assessment tool was the MMPI 2.
What I heard most loudly from the report was that I lacked a primary support group. Science said so, and that was enough for me.
Soon after I returned to my schooling at the University, I made further use of the medical access.
Being adopted, I have no medical history.
As a youth, I was told I lacked the chemical the glue for modern braces. Who knew what else could be wrong!
Not I, but I was going to find out.
After getting a proper physical exam, I entered the mental health clinic.
My first therapist at the clinic was a white woman. Part way through the first session, she asked if I just wanted to bash white people.
I asked if there was a therapist of color on duty.
There was one.
And after they retired, there was another one.
During this time I also met with a psychiatrist at the clinic.
We met for a few sessions, after which he asked if I wanted an SSRI.
I had been prescribed Depakote and Ambilify through sample doses, after my first two arrests respectively. I didn’t care for either.
I would again decline.
My issue is around hyper-mania.
While I am capable of sadness, I do not seem to maintain delusions of grandeur nor impenetrable lows. I do have strong emotions, though maintain a “relatively” realistic view of the reality around me.
While I may be an asshole, I had a clean bill of health from doctors.
Granted, you can tell those people anything you want, and it never has to be near the truth. Plus, I was put on stage at an early age and told to act. I can bullshit like others breathe.
And I hate it.
I always let the therapist drive conversation, until I wouldn’t.
In this way, I tried to always remain authentic.
Ok, sure, maybe just a calculated veneer above a cold hard racist.
People who look like me have accused of devilry ever since the Spaniards arrived, and decided to try to enslave the indigenous people of this land.
What Has Changed?
My first tattoo was a memorial to my mother.
Never forget where you came from.
Then all the memories blur into emotions.
Told paper is the best revenge, I try to reconcile it with the idea that not all that glitters is gold.
And that half the story has never been told.
Even here, so much has been left out.
Though I haven’t tried to portray myself as an angel either.
This isn’t just my story, and while you may not know me, nor next year’s reader either. One day, someone might be able to put together the pieces. And while I’ve made mistakes, I have tried to learn from them, and the mistakes of others.
A few weeks ago I found out my mother is real.
That family I talked about wanting… it may be possible.
This is why at the end of the day, not all Latino adoptees should, nor may be able to, feel gratitude, I do.
I survived and took the tools to fight back.
I wasn’t supposed to be able to that, and such tools weren’t supposed to exist.
In high school, I heard Bill Hicks and bought the only album the local record shop had.
Track five was a neon sign:
That was supposed to be me.
“And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.”—Kahlil Gibran
They were able to use my youth and then blame the consequences of their recklessness on the nature of my genes.
It would only be human to hate them. And I do.
But it only feeds the stereotypes that they have been banking on since they bought me.
When Animals Attack
I don’t know how to end this piece as I don’t even know what I was trying to say when I began.
In so many words I’ve already said all that I have to say.
And so all that remains, is to do.
The road hasn’t been all argument heartache and confusion
In 2008 I registered a nonprofit. Ten years later it has become a we, and I no longer feel completely alone.
Around this time I also recorded some music.
The idea was if you can’t escape the stereotypes, embrace them.
I was given many blessings and opportunities along with the scars.
That I might use them in a meaningful way is the hope.
CultureClap is the moniker for someone who has had many names in their life and is still trying to figure out which ones are real. He tweets @CultureClap and more information can be found at CultureClap.com