Sunday, August 9, 2015

Alright (My Identity in Passing) | The Jose Vilson

Alright (My Identity in Passing) | The Jose Vilson:

Alright (My Identity in Passing)

The last time I went to the Dominican Day Parade, my youthful naivete gave way for a conservatism I didn’t quite understand in myself. The schools of ostensibly hypermasculine Dominican men highlighting their hair and tightening their shirts threw me off. The crowds of voluptuous Dominican women wearing sexier varieties of the Dominican flag strapped across their tops and bottoms were distracting at first, but ultimately uninviting to a younger me who, from a hood lens, saw that sort of energy as plastic and unnecessary in his life. I also hated the obsession with the flags sans any context for the pride by which so many of us held this red, blue, and white rectangle so dear.
But that was me back then. Now, I’m less in my feelings about this.
One of the critical elements of our identities is the cultural signifiers we attach to what we deem to be that culture. In my case, it’s my family, and the three parts I don’t talk about enough: my mother’s side, my father’s side, and my stepfather’s side. My mother’s side had a different version of what it meant to be Dominican than my stepfather’s side, and my father’s side was what I knew about being Haitian. Anything I understood about those cultures were seen through generational lenses of the interactions I had with all of them.
That’s why, with all the opportunities I’ve had this summer to help others explore their identities and develop themselves as teachers, I too had all these synapses that didn’t connect in how I viewed the Alright (My Identity in Passing) | The Jose Vilson: