Saturday, April 14, 2007
A Tribe of One: High School Years
Recently a friend described me as "a tribe of one" after a lengthy conversation. Perhaps this is the most accurate description anyone has said about me in any given years. The world has been difficult to navigate, but slowly but surely, I feel I'm coming into my own person.
My tribe of one status is poignant because I am mostly alone, often without clear categorization socially. Sure, there are labels one could aptly assign me for description; Black, African-American, Person of Color, Bisexual, Queer, Homo, Gay, Faggot, Loyal, Annoying, Faithful, Taxing, on and one, but do these truly give clear insight into the person I am? Some descriptions are accurate, others are negative and damaging. Of those descriptions, they only serve to continue oppression and poor self-esteem and self-worth. Mostly, I often feel a social misfit, terribly alone and reserved when it comes to revealing the core of my personality.
This blog has accomplished two things. It's allowed me to be open and candid about the mundane and everyday going on in my life without fear or criticism. Two, is permits me to be the "me" that my close personal friends know and love. Wielding the Axe is meant to be a semi-anonymous blog, but anyone who knows me well enough will know by reading the blog who the man behind the moniker Darktomahawk really is.
But why am I the tribe of one? Why do I feel socially outcast? While security and comfort are a daily process in constant development, I still have many struggles to overcome. These struggles circulate around sexuality, ethnicity, masculinity, and weight issues, all of which comprise this person before you. None of the struggles have been easy to adapt towards my sojourn to being fully human.
As a young man I was emotionally and sexually abused. This is a fact dawning on many men in American society today. Its traumatic impact deviated and stunted my proper development and left me insecure and yearning to be whole. I've suffered emotional abuse from trusted individuals and sexual abuse from those who sought their own misguided agendas. Life has been about surpassing those incidents, rectifying the wrong and placing myself into the general collectiveness others feel, a part of a group. I've never felt here nor there, belonging to no one particular faction, being an individual, perhaps without uniqueness. My issues are common, but I've been vexed on how to get my self-worth back.
Perhaps the most damaging and horrific abuse came from the hands of my peers and other African American men. Throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years I was constantly tortured by black youth and male teachers for being different. I recall a gym teacher in sixth grade who commented once on how I walked. Until this day, I am self-conscious of how I walk in front of others, making sure it doesn't come of as "swishy" or feminine. In high school, I had a classmate announce in Driver's Ed that I had AIDS (I didn't and don't). There was also the daily harassment riding the bus to school in the morning with the daily ritual of being called a "bitch" or "faggot."
"See that fat faggot there? He has AIDS." No words have ever been etched into my memory than those. I quickly grew to avoid socializing or interacting with black boys when I was a child. Similar incidents occurred to wreak havoc on my masculinity and worth.
My one female cousin who was a year older than me, but was in my graduating class, used to spend time together. We were pretty tight. She worked with me and we often did many extracurricular activities together after school. Mind you, these were activities not associated with school. She was the first person who introduced me to drugs (weed, herb, pot, Mary, Jane, Gange, bud, whatever term you want to call it) and Olde English 800 malt liquor. Her name is the feminine version of my proper name. "Dartomahawka" (not using her/my name, remember, semi-anonymous, right?) and I spent hours getting in mischief, often beguiling my Aunt Lille-Mae to no avail.
One Friday night, "Darktomahawka" and I were headed to a high school football game at Roosevelt, my hometown's local football stadium. As we walked up the street from my house, four ghetto boys from the neighborhood kept called out "Darktomahawkaaaaa," knowing my name from my high school jacket. My cousin kept turning around an yelling back at them "What?!?!" while they only snickered back. We kept on our way. I didn't have the heart to tell her those assholes were really calling out to me, teasing me. This was not a singular event. This had been an on-going happenstance just about everyday during the morning and afternoon bus ride to and from school. I always ignored it, feeling powerless to fight back and defend myself, weary to get "jumped" for being the neighborhood freak.
My solace today is I matured, grew up, and became something with my life. I know at least one of those boys is currently incarcerated, the other ones may be dead due their drug use they did in the 80s. Twenty odd years later, they are more than likely to have had umpteen kids by just as many "baby-mamas," or as my previous assumption, are dead. Black boys, however, weren't the only ones to join in "fun" the tearing down of my esteem.
I'll never forget Christine Hill, a self-righteous, perpetually pregnant, nasty girl I worked with at McDonald's during my sophomore and junior years in high school. I was not out in high school, but on some subconscious level must honed in on other gay boys. A friend of mine, JJJ, worked at McDonald's too. We were tight buddies and I briefly dated his sister for a while. JJJ and I hung out together quite frequently. One day, interestingly enough, JJJ and I were both working in the drive-thru when dear sweet Christine decided to pronounce us a couple of queer bitches and referred to me as "cum-belly."
Again, let's mention I wasn't aware of my sexual desires for men, so where that skank-ho drew her conclusions was unfathomable and still is to this day. Yours truly didn't not become sexually active, by choice anyway, until I was 17 years old, and it had always been with girls (women). Perhaps that greasy bitch had magical powers and gazed in her poor black trash crystal ball and gleamed the future to see the man I am today? Ironically, she was correct. We were a couple of queer bitches. About 6-7 years ago I learned from a friend of mine JJJ had been discharged from the navy due to his homosexuality. I got it from a reliable source, a friend, who is also gay, saw him at a popular gay bar in Philly. Funny, JJJ never seemed queer to me. He always appeared very much into girls. The one girl he dated, for a time, was a close friend of mine. I know they had sex. OFTEN.
Hmmm. I'll have to look JJJ up next year at my 20 Year High School Reunion.
While this blog is not really intended to show adult content, I can't guarantee that an occasional image of male nudity won't appear. Be advised that this blog is intended to be read by people with an open mind. I don't claim any rights to the images nor do I have any knowledge of the sexuality of persons featured (unless they are openly gay...duh). Enjoy yourself and take a small step in my every day life and pondering... Feel free to email any comments or opinions.