Find below some beautifully crafted pieces on identity and belonging by Shaniece and Cass!
Shaniece – @darknessbeforethelight on Instagram.
mixed world viewpoint
boundaries and borders. identity crisis and embracing difference. displacement and diaspora. belonging and left out. english and indian. mixed and fifty fifity. uncertainty and unknown. unique and exactly the same. misunderstood and misheard. half of this and a quarter of that. biracial and multiracial. figuring it out and being over it. white and black. somewhere in between and somewhere in the middle. ethnic minority and global majority. worlds together and universes apart.
“we were always in survival mode” it was a phrase passed down the generations in my family – rupi kaur
they called it ‘survival mode’
told me that being none white in white spaces
activated this mode, but i couldn’t even find the switch
it embedded itself so far into my mind
that there is no one and off switch
only ‘auto’ or as i call it
‘permanently on’ as i realise white spaces dominate me
i choose to put myself in these places and believe i was white
i was told on the playground that i wasn’t right
can’t be from around here in survival mode
because my skin colour didn’t match the postcode
i am left wondering what i am and how i fit
but i’m so worried i’m never going to find it
sometimes i feel i belong more in white spaces
feel more intimidated around too many brown faces
but i don’t fit in either or both
couldn’t vow myself to one even under oath
and i feel my ancestors are so far apart
where i can only connect with them in my heart
because i don’t live how they did being the colonised
i live closer to the coloniser being in my mind
not one or the other, not both or together
and maybe i’ll be searching on this journey forever
i understand the survival mode my ancestors would be in
but when it comes to me i don’t know where to begin
on/off, on/off, permanently on?
i’ve lost track of when it’s on and when its gone
use to consciously know, now unconsciously forget
feeling better in white spaces sometimes fills me with regret
and guilt and shame,
but i’m the level above my ancestors in this game
this game of life that we are all playing
where no one really knows what each other is saying
by some i am accepted, by others i am not
some people see me for me, others only see what i’ve got
they don’t see all the layer that make me me
they pick and they choose what they want to see
not brown enough for some, not white enough for others,
sometimes i’m just me, other times i have sisters and brothers
people who see me beyond the colour of my skin
they’re the people who let me in
because i don’t care about black or white
all i care about is the people who make me feel right
who don’t ask me to explain exactly who i am
and don’t want me to speak about it all over instagram
but instead, they see me for just me
because in society that is how it’s supposed to be.
not brown enough for some, not white enough for others,
sometimes i’m just me, other times i have sisters and brothers.
Cass – @cassiasorus on Instagram.
Biracial girl in Spanish class is asked: how does it feel to be the one that doesn’t fit in?
What side do you identify with? Asian or white.
White girl laughs the comment off because she doesn’t know what to say.
Asian girl doesn’t want to answer in case she gets bullied more than usual.
Biracial girl stares at the class in a limbo of her own.
Biracial girl doesn’t know who she is. Recalls growing up looking for people who look like her to know how to dress, how to act, how to speak.
Biracial girl has a white person‘s name but white people don’t see the white in her.
Biracial girl looks at biracial mom and asks why do I look different.
Biracial mom tells biracial girl to act more white, be more white, be white.
Biracial girl looks in the mirror and doesn’t feel white.
Biracial girl doesn’t understand why she’s not fully white.
Biracial girl wishes her identity came with an instructions manual.
White girl only hangs out with white folk. She copies the aesthetic, the accent. White girl wears make up thats 2 shades later, trying to hide la chinita.
Asian girl wishes white girl would stop trying so hard to fit in. Wants her to understand that she’s free of shame. That she doesn’t face any struggle.
Biracial girl tries to laugh the comments away.
White girl ignores Asian girl. Wishes she’d disappear. Wishes she wasn’t caged in her embrace.
Asian girl wants to disappear. Wants to stop battling the colonization of her skin.
Biracial girl has only known love from a white partner.
Biracial girl is called exotic by white men.
Biracial girl doesn’t understand why her skin is an invitation for white men to feel comfortable. To feel like they can claw their way in and embrace her curves with misogyny.
Biracial girl hates to be called exotic.
Biracial girl loves white partner but white partner compares her love to online Asian pornography.
Biracial girl kisses white partner touches white partner makes love to white partner and still white partner doesn’t see her beyond exotic.Biracial girl is a Gemini.
Biracial girl keeps one feet in two different worlds where she’s both accepted and unwelcome.
Biracial girl can be everything.
Biracial girl is nothing.
Biracial girl doesn’t understand that it was the Universe that made her like that.
Biracial girl doesn’t know if she’s rope or the parties tagging at her extremities trying to claim a power she doesn’t understand.
that she’s the rope in a tag of war trying to glue her two sides together.
Biracial girl is sorry for this poem.
For taking up space.
Doesn’t know if it’s her white self’s ego wanting to make a statement.
Why her Asian self won’t say anything at all.
White girl says “sorry not sorry”.
White girl wants to take up space.
Asian girl resents white girl. Resents how her privilege has robbed her of her need to live.
Biracial girl doesn’t know if she gets to speak up or sit down in this argument.
Biracial girl wishes she could love both sides equally. That she didn’t feel the need to choose between the two.
Biracial girl wishes she could learn how to love without resentment.
Biracial girl is both the discolored sheep of each family and the dog that hunts it.
Wishes she were purebred, and not a mutt.
Wishes she didn’t have to be the oppressor and the oppressed.
Biracial girl wishes.
But biracial girl only knows how to be everything and nothing all at the same time.
With Wine Comes Freedom
I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve tried to write to you, and all the times I threw the letters away. I guess it was fear that kept holding me back, or maybe regret.
It’s been awhile, wouldn’t you agree? Like an addict I’ve been trying to keep my distance and tried to move towards recovery.
I’ve been doing fine, though. Not that you care but, I want to think I have. However, it’s 02:38 am on a Tuesday night, I’m drunk off my ass and playing a supercut in my head; what we used to be, my life with you and the thrill I felt each time I was beside you. I’ve tried to rediscover that feeling, but it’s hopeless… Or I am, I don’t know.
There are times I forget what you look like. And that scares me because it shows just how cruel time can be.
There are memories that linger, at least and, in times like this, when I’m out in my balcony, my 3rd bottle of wine in one hand and my 9th ciggy of the night on the other, that they start to appear, exploding in my mind, one after the other.
I can’t help but remember a different version of me, in a different place, a different face and, above all, happy… Even when destruction is the only thing that followed her and surrounded her path. And that version of me was fucking happy… Because she had you.
So I close my eyes and let the past take over, even if it’s just for a second. I let the darkness envelope me into a hollow embrace that’s nothing but familiar, as the cold night breeze transports me to the place every piece of my being was created, to the heart of my origins.
I open my eyes and you’re there amongst a tsunami of faces, known and unknown. Everything is a blur of lights, music and cars honking at each other in traffic but, somehow, that only adds to your beauty and your glow.
Sol and it’s people became the blood that courses through our veins, and part of our romance and our tragedy. Sol was where everyone went to which filled the square with life.
Do you remember the buzz and the adrenaline that danced up our spines at the realisation of what we had? Do you remember that feeling? Freedom, my love, it was freedom.
The train station was our place. We called ourselves Creatures of the Night, so it made sense that we were always underground. Lost between the railways which led to every corner of our city, that could take us to our next adventure or back home where only the ordinary awaited.
I remember how people found the space suffocating, but I’d argue that that’s what kept us connected: The constant electricity buzzing from the tracks, the sound of coins being put into vending machines, the laughs of drunk teenagers on a Friday night, the gritty sound of an unknown dude singing rock songs in the far corner of the platform. Those were the moments we connected, and the only times we were able to breathe.
The Reloj de Gobernación was the centerpiece of Sol. The Great Eye as you called it. Every tick was in sync with each movement of the square, every click of a camera, the sirens of the police cars, the shouts of people manifesting, the flickering lights of the shops, every clink of beer bottles from the surrounding pubs. I can’t tell you the amount of things it has witnessed through the centuries, but it has stood there magnificently, watching. Always observant. It was there when we had our first kiss and when you broke my heart and I gave you our last. It has watched me grow and fall. But has always seen my heart sing, alone and alongside yours, a perfect harmony, it’s tick tock being the chords to our song.
Flanking Sol, stood Sevilla and Ópera – Sol’s sidekicks – but I think they’re the two other parts of a great triptych, for one cannot stand without the other. Sevilla was the moon, the dark side that’s always
hidden, and Ópera was neither a satellite nor a big celestial body, but a simple star where simple people tried their hardest to shine.
Sevilla was on Sol’s left. The place of secrets, greed and temptation. Sevilla was the rabbit hole we fell into, the mad land we got addicted to. Sevilla was the one who witnessed our first meeting. She calls out the memories of how we danced against each other until shared breath was the only oxygen we knew, the first time fairy dust shot up our nostrils and made us see Neverland, the night we sneaked out the back to feed on one another’s ecstasy until we were satisfied. Sevilla calls out the memories of the first time you confessed you loved me.
Sevilla is a deathly femme fatale for those who really know her and her dark secrets. But that’s her game. She lures the innocent into her alleys and shows them a world they would never find on their own. You can get lost in her but, sometimes, the darkness helps us find what we want or what we need. And, I guess, that’s how we found each other.
On the other side of Sol, Ópera stood awkward, yet classy. You would have called her the Nerdy Sister as she embodies part of our city’s culture: the Teatro Real and the Palacio Real. Ópera portrayed a mixture of history and contemporaneity no other place could capture. Beautiful. Modern vintage as you’d say. And unlike Sevilla, Ópera exposed our vulnerabilities.
Ours and other people’s. How hard we try to be accepted, acknowledged, loved…
Ópera witnessed most of my favorite memories. She heard all of our secrets, the ones we shared sober, drunk and high. She heard our laughs and our cries, and some of our fights. She looked over us as we talked about our dreams for the future. She frowned at us when we planned to runaway. She witnessed the night we came back from skinny dipping and we sat at the Palacio Real to look up at the stars… The same night you took my hand and you promised me a life together, a small, cheap, student-worthy stone and a kiss sealing such vow. She saw, with a broken heart, how the love that was only meant for you was shared amongst wolves, my body nothing more than fresh meat to my predators, a silenced victim drenched in fake love and fake promises. The stone you gave me on the floor, its pearly, sparkling white turned to dark, deep black. A shimmer of red proof that even love can cry.
More than 378 days have passed since the climax of our tragedy, and the memories still haunt me. They manifest as the monsters they call nightmares, but I never know which one is a dream and which one is reality.
You can’t blame me for leaving. And, if you do, please don’t. Please understand that I had to get away. That I was drowning, whether I was around people or by myself. That my love letters slowly became suicide notes because Death tempted me with an idea of love that seemed less painful to what we had then.
I’m not proud of how I left, so suddenly and without saying ‘goodbye’. And I’m sorry. Fuck’s sake, there are so many things I’m sorry for, and so many things I wish I could change… But I can’t.
They say one can never stop loving someone who once made them happy, and I guess it’s true. And I guess that’s the reason why I’m here reminiscing and, finally, writing my feelings down on paper. Because I’m ready to admit that I can’t let go. And I’m ready to reach back.
I’m ready to say… Baby, my love… My beautiful Madrid… I’m ready to come back home.