God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I can NOT change;
courage to change the things I CAN;
& wisdom, to KNOW THE DIFFERENCE - Reinhold Niebuhr
In 1984 I was born without a doubt, a male. Over these 25 years, I have grown from a boy into a man. & just as our animal kingdom counterparts (birds, dogs, cats, fish, etc), instinctually, I KNOW the distinct characteristics defining masculine & feminine. From appearance & overall demeanor, to mind state & gender roles. & no matter how much I did not agree with being called "womanly" as I struggled through puberty & adolescence...in retrospect, I can clearly identify all things feminine about my disposition.
It would appear that I am of African descent. I now identify myself as a black American, & though I may be able to expand or enhance my cultural beliefs...I can NOT change my race, nor my ethnicity. Being from Louisiana, I remember being conditioned by my elders to ACCEPT racism & prejudice at a very early age. I did not blatantly encounter an instance until 5th grade (Mrs. Williams was harder on her male students than her females, & favored whites over blacks). That school year was very life-changing for me. But with thick skin I completed my secondary education & since moving to Texas (hey, it is at least ONE step ahead), I have not looked back. These days I find a certain comfort in my racial identity.
I am a U.S. citizen...in fact, I was born into it. & unless some unforeseen circumstance occurs (yea, like my big permanent move to France), I will die an American. Because although it CAN be changed, it is something that will require a WHOLE bunch of paperwork & red tape to amend.
Being born an American, my civil liberties are outlined in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights. This document, is the quintessential blueprint of every move I am allowed to make for as long as I shall reside in this country. What I am allowed to say; the firearms I can pack; whether my privacy can be invaded; if I am allowed to be enslaved or practice a religion & the qualifications to vote in all elections. Basically, the extent of all my freedom. But this is not a comprehensive report, in fact limited to my use of medicinal marijuana which may even be taxed; days/times I can legally beat my wife; & specifically who (or what) I am allowed to marry, will vary between state to state constitutions...confused yet? But wait, there's more (& I hope no one reading this is wearing open-toed shoes):
I was not born a Christian (nor Buddhist or Muslim for that matter). Therefore, my faith CAN be subject to change at any given moment. In fact, my religious belief & or affiliation can be switched up quicker than a politician's word. After being coersed into baptism at the age of 8, it wasn't until the age of 18 that I realized how unsure I was about what I'd agreed to a decade ago & began to learn of all the other options on the menu. As of today, I claim NO SPECIFIC religion or denomination (& I'll leave that there). But to be dictated to and or governed by a holy book (whichever testament/version you prefer), is a CHOICE. As for being a black American man, born free to BE...those are circumstances beyond my control.