I’ve had writer’s block for four months now. It mostly stems from how to deal with the racial elements in my book. These sections seem to represent the only time that I feel like I am writing for anyone but myself.
I have never felt like my race has been a dominant part of my identity. It is a distinct and significant aspect but still a small one. I have never felt the need to justify or explain why I feel this way because it has always been a simple fact.
I have always known that it influences how others see me. I know that in the future when people see my name on something I have written that they will enter it with certain presumptions. I have never cared about this before.
Despite the common narratives of how racial minorities are confused about their identities because they don’t see themselves on TV, I have always known who I was. The fact that I wasn’t defined by other people gave me a wonderful freedom. I saw myself in the black pride of hip hop. I saw myself as a straight male in the feminist movement and the gay community. I saw myself in the Jewishness of Woody Allen films. I saw myself in American history. I saw myself in Roman history. I saw myself in human history.
In writing these parts of my book, I find myself explaining something that is easy to understand from my own perspective but the rest of the world finds hard to accept.
The ignorant who try to impose negative stereotypes have always been easy to dismiss. But there are also those who insult me by saying that I have assimilated into a culture that is not mine as if race binds you to a default culture. This is their way imposing another set of stereotypes whose idiocy they excuse by labeling them the good stereotypes. They claim that in denying these good stereotypes I have fallen victim to believing the negative ones. They try to impose a shame on me that I have never felt.
So I find myself preoccupied with changing an opinion that I have always deemed idiotic. In doing so, I feel my book is being taken away from me.
How do I take it back?
Perhaps it is by treating the subject with gleeful irreverence, dancing over the lines of political correctness with the same respect I would show the grave of a saint.