the lost tribesman

Gad, when did I become so … er … jaded? Honestly I am not that jaded. Sure, whenever I speak of St. John’s, everything I say about it is negative. What else can one say about the College? Honestly!

What’s the big deal with Santa Fe? What is this mediocre place but a hodgepodge of anglos who believe themselves to be granola hippies with an honest penchant for art, coexisting with hispanics whose only claim to the name is their propensity to leave everything they can for tomorrow.

The tourists that come here are in awe at how different this place is from the rest of America. What makes it different? the browness? Hah, the lack of architecture? Hah! It’s all an illusion of the calibre of Las Vegas. Yes, Santa Fe has its beautiful mountains, but aside from that, is it not just another sprawling hubbub, a perfect indicator of failed zoning laws or a lack thereof? Isn’t this what America is! If anything, this place is rather all-too-American!

I crave diversity – in thought. And the superficial predication of this diversity is ethnic diversity. If you are colored, one can abduct that you have come from another world, i.e, a different culture. In summa: you will probably have a different conception of the world. But ethnic diversity is not a guarantee of mental diversity.

The other day I was at some store and lo, an Asian. I felt in rapture. Blacks are as common as an oasis in the Sahara. Asians are prevalent as the mythical Dodo? “Really? How queer, the last time I heard of one being spotted was back in ‘84”. And when he opened his mouth, the reality sunk in; he wasn’t Asian, he was New Mexican. Again, ethnic diversity is no guarantee of mental diversity.

When I arrived in New Mexico, I was color blind; I had been brought up this way. My friends in elementary school were white, but with a twist: they were all first generation immigrants, like me, from working-class families. During recess, we isolated ourselves; the swing sets were our ‘ghetto’. Our difference from the other children was tacitly understood. And so I grew up, a brown face amongst white Asiatic Muslims and Jews. My school was rather diverse thanks to the collapse of the Soviet Union, that mythical evil empire.

Jr. high was no different, although to the mélange were added some French and Iranian students. In high school there was a bit more racial diversity but it showed the honest side of the mythical melting pot that America is supposed to be: segregation. I needn’t say where I hung out, it ought to be intuitive.

And upon my arrival at St. John’s, all the faces in my tutorials, were for the most part white. This wouldn’t have bothered me, had it not been for the fact that the workers doing the menial jobs were brown, like me. And it does not make the situation less absurd that my name is Spanish. Were I John Quiles, it would be different, it would transmit belonging, i.e., to this nation, whereas my name suggests freshness as in having recently arrived to the States – foreigness.

“Does he have an accent? Most probably, his name is Juan after all. Yet we have to verify it, for he is forever running to and fro episodically, never halting. And also, he has a particular! More diversity? We surely shall find all these things out if we ever have a word with him.”

All these things are imbricated, neatly arranged into that tessellated mosaic that arises from the mysteriousness I effect.

So I became very conscious about it all, about my browness and my apparent entitlement. But what made me different from these other people, these people of brown dilly dallying all around? I have yet to come to any real answers, save, it’s been luck. But, is to say luck tantamount to saying that I am fortunate not to be like them? After all, that seems what the word implies.

Yet, although I am aware of my own reality, it does not mean that I am able to understand my people. I am a strange in their midst. My comportment and speech betray my nature. Yet, I am told I belong to these people, as if groups were some static and eternal association that not even God himself would deign to dissolve.

It’s rather helpful to break the down into groups and categories. But it’s not so clear cut. I can say all Johnnies are self-involved people that don’t have anything to say to ‘outsiders’ even to ex-Johnnies and keep to themselves. Yes, there is a lot of truth to this, after all, generalizations, i.e., myths, are not predicated entirely on lies, but I am also aware that not everyone there is like this.

I know I am different from those groups that I am associated with because of circumstances, but we do share some aspects in common. But the differentiating miens are too strong.

The world views me in a certain way and I view myself in another. This views interact violently. I violently and angrily attempt to assert the validity of my view; I want to project furiously my idea of myself unto the world. And she does not relent.


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