15 Origins

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Mixed-race like Joyce talked about the richness of their multicultural heritage and it sounds real good until they avoided black people. It wasn’t a matter of conscious choice, necessarily, just a matter of gravitational pull, the way integration always worked, a one-way street. The minority assimilated into the dominant culture, not the other way around. Only white culture could be neutral and objective. Only white culture could be nonracial, willing to adopt the occasional exotic into its ranks. Only white culture had individuals. Barry understood Joyce, her, and all the other black kids who felt the way she did. In their mannerisms, their speech, their mixed-up hearts, he kept recognizing pieces of himself. And that’s exactly what scared him. Their confusion made him question his own racial credentials all over again. He needed to put distance between them and himself, to convince himself that he wasn’t comprised-that he was indeed still awake. He told Regina a lesson from the book, Heart of Darkness, it wasn’t really about Africa. or black people. It was about the man who wrote it. He could understand the European or Americans’ particular way of looking at the world. He said he read the book to help him understand just what it is that makes white people so afraid. The way ideas get twisted around. It helps him understand how people learn to hate. He wanted to tell her that the problem was a sort of fate for him, but he didn’t. -P.105, August 22, 2021

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