I spend a lot of time thinking about and talking about where I am going to live. You know, like where I’m going to settle down and have kids, raise a family and all that jazz. My ideas change constantly. One minute I am dead set on living Richmond, where I went to school, the next I want to drop everything and move to India and the next I want to move to a huge city (something I used to say I’d never do). Even though I change my mind constantly one thing has begun to become clear: moving back home looks less and less appealing.
Moving back home is complicated for many reasons. I often am asked by friends or family from home if or when I am moving back home. In some ways it is flattering that they want to me to live around them. Whenever they ask I tell them I don’t want to live at home. Naturally, they always ask why. It’s a hard thing to answer. I still struggle to figure out a tactful answer that I think wont offend them but does my own feelings justice, it’s a hard balance that I’m never sure I accomplish. It’s hard to say why I don’t want to live at home because any criticism of my home town comes off as a criticism of the people living there, which it is, if I’m being honest.
I haven’t really found the right phrasing but what I want to communicate is that my home town is too white. Now, how do I say that to all my white family and white friends from home without sounding like I am directly attacking them for being white? I don’t know, but here is my best shot at an explanation. When I think about having kids, think about who I want to spend the rest of my life with or try to envision myself as a an old man all of those people are white. My kids are white. My partner is white. I mean, shit, even me as an old man is white. Let’s unpack those things one by one.
My kids are white. So, I could actually have white kids because I could adopt white kids. But that’s not what I mean when I say my kids are white. I mean when I envision a woman impregnated by me having a child, that kid is white. Not mixed, but full on white kid. Just wait, it gets better.
My partner is white. This is perfectly reasonable, right? I mean I’ve dated white women and don’t see myself stopping. My qualm is that I cannot even create an image of my future partner where she is not white. There are certainly a lot of things at play here including who popular culture tells me I should be attracted who (mostly white women). Be patient, I’m almost there.
I am an old white man. Ok, this is not reasonable or even feasible unless I pulled a Michael Jackson. I’m being polite, its fucked up. When I think about grandpa Kumar I think of some old, short white guy with a semi blurry face. Sure maybe I have difficult envisioning myself as an older person because I am adopted, I’d say that is a reasonable response. Unfortunately, I don’t have trouble envisioning myself, I just envision myself as a white person, which is troubling.
I know I am oversimplifying, but I think a huge reason why it is very difficult for me to see POC in my life in the future is that I did not grow up in a place where there are a lot of folks who look like me. As a youngster I just figured that was how things worked out, but now I am in a place where I get to choose where I live, where my kids will grow up and what they will see growing up. Whatever skin color they are, gender they identify as, religion they subscribe to, sexuality they identify with I want them to have people in their community/daily life that help them envision their future selves, not hinder those visions.
Does that make sense? it’s not about not being around white people, it’s about being around not white people.