For my studio class in Citizenship, we were asked to go out and ask a stranger about ways that they have felt Othered (as in alienated, not a part of, disassociated from) as citizens of the United States.
I met Michael on Union Square, and was reminded of how every account you tell of a different person also is a story about you. At the very best, an account of a meeting. This, to me, is fundamental also of systems thinking: that every system moves also with you, with your observation, your interpretation. The importance as an ethnographer not of trying to eliminate yourself, rather expand in your meeting with the Other, share vulnerability and know you will never know another person beyond your own capacity to meet yourself.
So here comes the story:
What you mean by othered? Alienated? You know in the US there´s lots of aliens, we´re an immigrant country. I´m just saying we should be screening a little better, if you want to have full citizenship. I have nothing against the good ones, but most of the terrorists are here already. I believe some of them are down with Al Quaida, how do you know who is who? There´s lots of extraterrestrial creatures too, I don´t mind them and their tentacles (chuckles), I just want to know what their agenda is!
If I ever felt alienated, as in not having full citizenship? You kidding me? Since the day I was born, I´m a Black man. This country is founded upon slavery, and it ain´t really over, you see the work they do in prisons. Black people don´t get the same pay, we don´t really get the structure of a family, there´s a lot of single-family households. I feel alienated when an officer stops me in the street because of the color of my skin. When ignorance supersedes the intellect. “Where you goin´boy?”, “What you got in your pocket?”. “You look like so and so”, and you know if you don´t comply they might kill you. Sometimes it´s the faces people make, or just keeping a certain distance. I feel alienated sometimes when people use their headphones too, when they don´t want to listen to you. Sometimes alienation comes from pushing yourself out, you can do this to yourself. When did you feel alienated?
If we just stopped looking at colors we´d be much better off. How you handle yourself, it´s not depending on color, there are ignorant people of all colors and races. When you can learn to master your own feelings you can master everybody else´s. Just try it, close your eyes and tell me what you experience. Your heartbeat? See, the only thing you really know exists is you. You are the nucleus, everything else revolves around you. It´s all an illusion what we see, it´s all neutrons, electrons. You set you own stage and they are your audience, you can give it meaning if you want, or you can give it no meaning at all. When you write down what I´m saying in that notebook of yours, it´s really you in that book.
Don´t be stressed ´cause you´re blessed! Don´t feel alienated! (chuckles)
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