7/23/2011 Washington, DC
“People of color.”
Ironic, I am reading Invisible Man the week that I visit a city with more unlike faces, more blended communities, more colors than I have yet seen.
[So if the ideal of achieving a true political equality eludes us in reality—as it continues to do—there is still available that fictional vision of an ideal democracy in which the actual combines with the ideal and gives us representations of a state of things in which the highly placed and the lowly, the black and the white, the northerner and the southerner, the native-born and the immigrant are combined to tell us of transcendent truths and possibilities such as those discovered when Mark Twain set Huck and Jim afloat on the raft.]
A person who is not a “people of color” would be a “non colored,” yes? So then the NCLR president, the Latinas across the table, the attractive black man sitting to my right, each would agree that I do not have the right to consider myself, or to check the box that says “people of color,” correct? [nor would I argue their misguidance.] Therefore I am a “non colored.” A person without color? As I say it, as I lower my head in defeat, in shameful acceptance, I am filled with a defiant… what? Jealousy? Urge to defend myself? To compensate?
[A man of two worlds, my pilot felt himself to be misperceived in both and thus was at ease in neither.]
I am white. (I am white?) Am I allowed to relate to this pilot, this black man?
I am drawn to diversity. Of those different from myself. When one wishes to add “diversity” among us, who would be chosen last? Or next to last, just before the white man?
I love color. Everything wants and feels to burst with shades of turquoise, of amber, of gold, emerald, indigo. Of white? I want more color. A permanency. Una mezcla.
[America is woven of many strands. I would recognise them and let it so remain. Our fate is to become one, and yet many. This is not prophecy, but description.]
[I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.]
-Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison