Reading chapter 2 in "Belonging" by Bell Hooks, I realized even more so why I adore her alchemy of words. Her writing is honest, her words are vulnerable and true. They are concise and to the point but still personal. I quoted, “...fear of nature and fear of whiteness was the trauma shaping black life…”.
I feel like Hooks encapsulated sharply how geography shaped her identity. I then reflected on my own identity and how I feel in various environments. I think this chapter allows for a person to begin taking the steps to look outside of themselves and question why they morph their personas when they are in different spaces.
Although I feel like the four-plex on 4549 St. Elmo Drive I grew up in is “home” no matter what- demographically, once I moved to Monterey Bay, the coast became a space I felt and still feel the most grounded. Amiss of social structures that are consistently imposed upon me, I think living along the coast allowed me to be free with my thoughts and movements. So, my true self. An identity I felt was the most me.
When I moved back to Los Angeles, there was this cumbersome energy to conform and fit in, yet aesthetically stand out which was so confusing- I would go to opening ceremonies and artists talks and I realized, even when the outfit is flamboyant, the words and dictation of those present, everyone sounded like an ego-filled academic as though they had forgotten how to communicate as themselves. Themselves being former years in understanding self- the way one reacts, speaks, joys, and sorrows- almost banished to one side when taught new ways of being in order to be accepted within a space.
I consider elements of how perhaps one experiencing Blackness may morph while in the presence of european-americans. You are taught for such a long time how to be and how to exist when the formalities being taught are literally just to erase who you are and to align yourself with cultural whiteness as it exists. This is so ironic because as Hooks mentions, “...and even though many poor and disenfranchised white[s]...struggling to make their way through capitalist white power mimic & claim this history of colonial power, they can never really possess the power & privilege of capitalist whiteness...” and so it begs the question for me, why bother changing who you are to be accepted when you can accept yourself and honor your roots?
In accepting yourself, you mature all of those elements about yourself others would teach you to dismiss or "correct," for the sake of assimilation,“...fear of nature and fear of whiteness was the trauma shaping black life…” and taking accountability in being a participant in your erasure opens up new portals to explore more about you, myself, and how Blackness can exist in space.
A SUPPORTED OPINION PAGE: