Lately,I have developed a passion for migrant Literature, that is the type of literature that addresses issueses of people who are aliens, strangers, exiles, ex-patriots, and generally those who are not "at home" with the major setting of the story. "Oh course, Beth," anyone who knows me might say. The immigrant in me can relate to the characters in my stories.
I would like to think that my new found passion is deeper than that. I would like to say that I am drawn to marginalized people because the human I am relates to the humans they represent. However, I think I just might be shallow to be fascinated by migrants because like all the migrant novels I have read, I feel displaced. I stand out. I am stranger. I either attract people or repel people because of my foreign-ness. I have to deal with my identity every time I look in the mirror or meet someone new. Whenever issues regarding the country of my birth or my biological race are mentioned in class, heads turn to see my facial expression. Although I do not have it as rough as many of the subjects of the novels that I read, I still struggle with these things. I relate to them as they unfold in the stories I read. You might say that I need to get over myself, embrace my dual citizenship, my foreign influences, my racial minority, my rootlessness, the fact that I am different from any of my peers.
I recently read Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. My lecturer does not like Rhys much as she thinks the author is over-celebrated and over-victimized woman that was out of touch. I on the other hand understand Rhys. The cry of her heart matches mind. Like her, I want to be understood and at home in the Caribbean. I do not to associate myself with the racial prejudices that have poisoned my home. I have issues with my race, in fact, I have this subconscious desire to be a pretty dark skinned girl. I have no desire to identify with the self-interest that white people, rather Colonial European powers, or North America "democracy" impose on people. I am appalled by forms of white supremacy, or any racial supremacy for that matter. I want to be celebrated like my sisters are.
Last year I took African Lit. for two semesters. In a strange way I just know that Mama Africa is my mama too. It is a strange feeling. I know that Christian popular ideas have it that Africa is just a land, like any other, if not worse. That it is a place that missionaries run to and Western powers exploit. But to me, this silly white girl, it is much more. I pray Africa because I feel kinship to her, not because I pity her or what to benefit from her. I guess if Mama Africa is not my mama, then maybe she is a glorious Aunty. You know, the Aunty that is so dear to your heart, that you ache to call her Mama.
Another book I am currently reading is dealing with migration into the United States. The novel is called "The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" by Junot Diaz. The story is about a woman from the Dominican Republic who is basically exiled to New Jersey, where she raises her two children. One of her children is Oscar, an overweight, comicbook nerd. The novel also goes into some family details, and history of the DR. I know I am not really that much overweight, I am not from nor have I ever been to the DR, I am not a comicbook nerd, I don't speak English with a heavy Spanish accent or much slang, but there is something about this brother that brings my heart home. I wish I could just give Oscar a big hug and tell him everything will be all right. Junot can be my homie, although I've never referred any one as such.
So there you have it folks. I confess to being a comrade to Jean Rhyse. I understand her. I also understand the haunting questions that cross-dressers ask themselves, although my question is different.
Why was I made this way? Why can't I be a pretty Latina girl? Why can't I be a Kriol sistah?