Sunday, October 01, 2006
Sunday Scribblings: Skin
I'm here at the Dodge Poetry Festival but I wanted to add my two cents to the conversation about skin. (Scroll down for pictures and posts from the festival.)
Being comfortable in my skin took years of practice. My perspective has always been a minority one. When I walk into a room, usually I am the only one of color. I see it in grocery stores, at the office, in my neighborhood. So to a certain extent, I've always felt comfortable with who I am because this is how it is. It also means that I have the opportunity to be the first person of color going through the door, making things happen, changing perspectives--now that's an opportunity I can't pass up.
As I sit here typing a few miles away from Dodge, I am reminded of something that one of the panelist said at a session on race and poetry. This particular panelist was (is) African American; he said (I'm paraphrasing) that as African Americans, we know more about white culture than they know about us. We've spent our whole lives adapting, changing, working to be accepted--but it hasn't been a reciprocal relationship. Poetry (and spaces like Sunday Scribblings) gives us a common ground to have open discussions, and can be a way into the lives and histories of others. From there, we can start to understand what it's like to be in someone else's skin.
So when I think of skin, I think of color, but I also think of the possibilities for change. Being able to talk about what it's like to be me through poetry allows me to start a dialogue with you, a virtual stranger. Again, it's the opportunity to walk through a new door that I can't pass up.