Last night, around 12:30 or so I was coming home from uptown, riding the 2 train. The first car I got on was a little too warm and smelled a little too much like a diaper, like a warm diaper, and no way was I going to ride a local train on this smelly thing all the way to 14th, and so, at the next stop, I switched to a different car. This car was filled with mostly black males scattered throughout the car, in various groups, and all of them, I am pretty sure, were homos. They didn't even seem to be together. It seemed really odd that I was on a car full of black homos. It would be just as weird to be on a car with mainly white homos, with a few hets scattered throughout.
The group near me got my attention somehow and one of the guys asked me where I was from. "Uh, Brooklyn," I said.
"No, no. Where are you from? Where's your family from?"
"Uh, my dad's from Chile."
And that satisified this one guy and he seemed about to say something else but his friend then jumped in. "So you're Brazilian?" he said excitedly, mishearing me.
"No, Chilean. My dad's from Chile." And this one dude totally seemed repulsed by me with this news that I was not Brazilian, something that he would not have known one way or the other, but now that he knew I wasn't, I was no longer interesting, was no longer the sexually fetishized Brazilian. Brazilians and Puerto Ricans - how did they come to be so eroticized by homos? I was already pretty annoyed with this guy, but he would make me more annoyed before our conversation would end. "So you're dad is white?"
"Uh, no." Notice all the uhs, my hesitance as I try to figure exactly what he is aiming at, that I sort of know that it is some game to idenitfy me as inauthentic even though I never made any claims to whatever notion of authenticity this guy had.
"So, is he black?"
"Is he Indian?"
And I was a little too tired to explain to someone that had no interest in subtle distinctions, the way race works in Latin America, and how you cannot apply the same racial identification system that holds sway here. That my dad is probably all three, like most people from Latin American countries, he is this mestizo mix of centuries of interracial fucking.
Somewhere after these nos of mine, this aggresive guy turned around and talked to his friends again. I was pretty annoyed the rest of the way to 14th, having to think about this, about how obiviously these guys did not see me as white, otherwise they wouldn't have asked where I was from, and yet then wanted to peg me as something for some reason. I hate it when people are idiots.
Today, an opposite feeling, that I was surrouned by nonidiots, thousands of them demanding what is due to them. I marched across the Brooklyn Bridge, finding Beth in this mix and talking to her the whole way. It was such a good feeling to see all these Latino families, little old white ladies, some nuns, the Housing Works group, all of these benevolent people fighting the good fight, playing drums, chanting, all under a brilliant blue sky. I almost cried with happiness so many times today.
My dad was an illegal immigrant. He was deported when I was in high school, one of the many traumatic events of my life relating to my father. This fight over immigration status is something that means a lot to me, and seeing all these Latino families, I projected some of my experience onto theirs and wanted the world for them.
When we reached Broadway, I was again so happy. Sometimes I am impressed by human beings. Today was one of those times. As far as I could see in both directions on Broadway, there were people packed in, happy and wanting to stay so. So many people, so fucking awesome. All these voices, all in sync together, or trying at least, this massive body, God, God, God.