On Reconciling Double Consciousness and Being an Emotional Immigrant


From a few weeks ago after a pretty amazing but tormented first year in New York City and dealing with the weirdness that sometimes comes with life changes and upward mobility:

On Monday night, I was on my way home after a meet-upy thing I’m super excited about that I wouldn’t have even considered a few years ago bc I would have been no joke like “that shit is for white people.”

I opened my phone to figure out the best way to get home and instinctively opened Waze and chuckled. I had spent the last week and a half in LA back on freeways but mostly back in the neighborhood I grew up in, where everyone is more or less like me. I couldn’t wait to leave this time last year (when I signed the contract for the job I have now), but as always, distance makes the heart grow fonder.

I switched to Google maps to check train times while walking through the cacophonous internationalism and diversity that is NYC on an extraordinarily beautiful night. I’ve always really wanted to be a global citizen despite inclinations for tribalism.

Lately, I’m always switching place to place space to space. I put on different clothes, talk with a different accent, speak in a different language, change different IDs and transit cards out of my wallet all without thinking. Feeling like an emotional immigrant, not quite real and definitely not down.

I’ve struggled in the past year to finally get that this life is both a gift and a responsibility and that is ok, even though it can feel like a burden with sense of torment, the constant mix of ecstasy and guilt immigrant Americans can feel. Of always being an outsider, but someone who moves past borders, real and invisible. My adaptability has sometimes made me wonder if I’m a plastic person.

But I can’t keep worrying about feeling like selling out or that I’m being a faker – I’ve made my choices with no regrets. Maybe I can be a bridge and accept it as both a form of duty and a stroke of luck, because let’s face it, most of the world cannot be global citizens. Choosing the best parts of life and knowing that to much is given much is expected, but I can enjoy it, appreciate it, use it, and forever be grateful for this moment in life.


Thoughts on Sadiq versus Trump and the rise of ‘Others’ in the West

I’m a little late to this party, but it seems that the Western world is facing a reckoning, will it let the the people imported for essentially subordinate labor rise in meritocracy? Are people willing to face reality, history, and an integrated future as equals?

It’s easy to imagine London, possibly the most cosmopolitan and global of cities electing Sadiq Khan (sorry New York). It’s harder to imagine the masses of Europe or the United States be nearly as accepting (maybe Canada?).

A particular proclivity of these multicultural countries is joyfully celebrating token celebrities and successes, yay enjoying Beyonce and Barack on TV, cheer on Mario Balotelli and Zidane Zidane, but secretly hating accountability for history and non-White male superiors and ideologies that don’t place past practices and power as supreme.

In the United States, our reckoning has come. It’s everything from Black Lives Matter to the Bernie Bros.  We’re at a strange moment in history, White anxiety and racism versus the cacophonous rise of ‘the other America’ and everything in between. (See the disconnect between those thinking minorities wanting token unmerited representation versus those of us who are sick of seeing our talent and work denied in favor of upholding White mediocrity). It’s going to be a rough one.