The proctor has instructed us to fill out section four: Having light skin, eyes, and hair, but being black and white often leaves me misperceived. No, I accept and value who I am. In this country a century ago, most mixed-race children were products of rape or other relationships of power imbalance, but I am not.
I am a child in the twenty-first century who is a product of a loving relationship. I choose the label biracial and identify with my black and Irish sides equally. I am proud to say that my paternal great-grandparents immigrated to this country from Ireland and that I have found their names on the wall at Ellis Island, but people are rarely interested in that.
He pointed out that the white, blond-haired girls are always depicted as completely ditsy and asked me how it felt to fit that description. I went on to say that we should also be careful not to make assumptions about people based on their physical appearance.
When someone finds out that I am biracial, do I become a different person in his or her eyes? Am I more complex? Can they suddenly relate to me more or less? Through census forms, racial questionnaires on the SATs, and other devices, our society tries to draw conclusions about people based on appearance. It is a quick and easy way to categorize people without taking the time to get to know them, but it simply cannot be done.
I arrived first and took a seat, facing the door. I felt nervous and unsure. How would I be received by a famous revolutionary—an upper-middle-class American kid asking a communist hero questions? Then I spotted him in the doorway and my breath caught in my throat. At the counter we ordered: I told him that I felt honored to meet him and that I admired him greatly for his approach to life. He waved away my praise with his food-laden fork, responding that he was happy to be here and that it was nice to get out once in a while.
Our conversation moved on to his youth and the early choices that set him on his path to becoming a revolutionary. Why did he feel that he could do more for the poor as a guerilla leader than as a doctor? His answer was concise: He felt morally obligated to change this situation and believed he could help more people in a more direct manner as a warrior rather than as a doctor.
Next I asked why he chose communism as the means of achieving his goals. He replied that communism was merely a means to an end. That end was a Central and South America run by its citizens, free of foreign intervention. In his opinion communism was the best way to realize this dream. I agreed that a nation should be run by and for its citizens, but I hesitated to agree wholeheartedly. I was concerned by his exclusive emphasis on Latin Americans. His description, as I interpreted it, implied a nationalism and exclusion of others, most notably Americans.
Has Cuba fulfilled his vision for it? Che Guevara sighed and gathered his thoughts for a moment. The revolution did not spread, he reasoned, because of the success of the United States in propping up corrupt dictators and the inability of Cuba to build a viable economy upon which to support the export of revolution. I countered his negative view, pointing out that today many of the Latin American countries once under totalitarian rule are democratic, partly due to the spirit of reform he exemplified nearly half a century before.
He acknowledged the progress made but remained adamant that the nations were still not free of foreign intervention. At this point one of the Mexican teams on TV scored a goal, and we broke off our political conversation to talk about soccer.
He enlightened me, although he admitted his information was a bit out of date. In light of the events of September 11th, I asked about violence. In his view, when is it justified? Che Guevara responded by saying that violence is justified because those who hold power unjustly respond only to violence as a tool for change. They will not willingly relinquish power unless shown that the people will overwhelm and destroy them.
I disagreed vociferously, citing Peru and Guatemala as places where violence had been used and failed, only further impoverishing the nations. Che Guevara explained these failures as the inevitable outcome of the revolutionaries losing sight of their original moral goals. Reflecting upon his answers so far, I realized that I had lost some of my admiration for him.
By taking up the standard of Pan-American unity, I felt he lost some of his humanity that led me to identify so closely with him. To me he had become more of a symbol than an actual person. At this point I realized that I had to be home soon and thanked him profusely for his generosity in answering my questions. As we walked toward the door, I noticed that I had left my hat on the table.
I have a confession to make. I have a shoe fetish. Everyone around me seems to underestimate the statement a simple pair of shoes can make. To me, though, the shoes I wear are not merely covering for the two feet on which I tread, but a reflection of who I am. So, who am I? My toes are free in these sandals and wiggle at will. I have boundless energy that must not go to waste!
My slippers are my comforting side. I can wear them and listen to a friend cry for hours on end. My favorite pair of shoes, however, are my bright red Dr. No one else I know has them. These sneakers render me indistinguishable from others and thereby allow me to be independent.
I wear them running, riding my bicycle alone through the trails surrounded by signs of autumn, and even when I go to a museum and stand, transfixed by a single photograph. My hiking boots typify my love of adventure and being outdoors.
Broken in and molded to the shape of my foot, when wearing them I feel in touch with my surroundings. During college I intend to add to my collection yet another closet full of colorful clodhoppers. For each aspect of my personality I discover or enhance through my college experiences, I will find a pair of shoes to reflect it.
Perhaps a pair of Naot sandals for my Jewish Studies class or one black shoe and one white when learning about the Chinese culture and its belief in yin and yang. As I get to know myself and my goals grow nearer, my collection will expand. A combination of every shoe in my collection, these shoes will embody each aspect of my personality in a single footstep.
No longer will I have a separate pair for each quirk and quality. This one pair will say it all. It will be evidence of my self-awareness and maturity. My closet full of shoes mirrors my array of interests, and at the same time my difficulty in choosing a single interest that will satisfy me for the rest of my life. I want to leave college with direction, having pinpointed a single interest to pursue that will add texture and meaning to my life.
So there you have it. Want to know more? Come walk a day in my shoes. The stiff black apron hung awkwardly on my hips as I casually tried to tie the strings around my waist. Maurizio brought me to a dangerously steep staircase that looked like it had been purposely drenched in oil to increase the chance of a fall. As he gracefully flew down each step, I clutched onto the rusty tile walls, strategically putting one foot first and then the other.
Pretending to know what had to be done, I took a pile of unfolded starched napkins and attempted to turn them into the Gino accordion. I slowly folded each corner, trying to leave exactly one inch on both sides, and ignored the giggles and whispers coming from across the table. When I finished my first napkin, I quickly grabbed another and tried again, hiding my pathetic initial attempt under my thigh.
On my second try, I sighed with relief when I saw that what I had constructed slightly resembled an accordion shape. However, when I looked up, I saw that the other two men had each finished twenty perfect napkins. The next couple of nights afforded me the opportunity to master such tasks as refilling toilet paper dispensers and filling breadbaskets. Just as I began to find solace in these more manageable jobs, I felt a forceful tap on my shoulder.
I glanced over at the intimidating espresso machine and started to pace back and forth. I had mastered the art of avoidance and had learned nothing. I continued to clean vigorously, making sure to keep my eyes on the silverware so that no one would ask me to make another cappuccino.
Having barely made it through my first weekend at the restaurant, I was amazed at how relieved I felt to return to the familiarity of physics class. We were starting a new chapter on fiber optics. Moving through the material with greater ease than I had anticipated, we hit upon the topic of optical time domain reflectometers, and sweat began to form on my chest as I frantically flipped through my notebook.
I marked my paper with an asterisk so that I would know to ask my teacher to explain this material when I met with him privately during my next free period. I took a deep breath and the fear of not learning overcame my usual fear of looking foolish and I raised my hand. After my question had been answered, I felt like the Red Sox lifting the curse. I erased the star I had made on my notebook and confidently listened as we moved on to the next topic.
It did not suddenly rid me of my fear of showing ignorance, but it definitely marked a new willingness to ask questions. They are aware that you can pay someone to write your essay and that essays are floating around for sale on the Internet.
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