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Thu Apr 1, 2021, 06:20 PM

"I am resonant...organic chemistry taught me to fully inhabit my mixed identities."

I came across this quote the other day in my Nature Briefing:

Quote of the day
“When I really take a moment to see these bonds for what they are—a union of atoms in three dimensions—I also witness my sense of self, split between mixed identities, scooch to a sweet spot in the center that is a space all its own.”

Science writer Ariana Remmel’s moving personal essay considers how organic chemistry helped to illuminate the complexities of their racial and gender identity.

It links here:

"I am resonant...organic chemistry taught me to fully inhabit my mixed identities."

This is just a beautiful piece of writing.

Some excerpts:

The splashes of children playing in the pool echo through the hot summer air. I’m not allowed in the deep end yet, not without my floaties. Even then, I am afraid that a shark will sneak up and eat my toes because Dad told me that this is what happens to little girls who go to the deep end without a grown-up. I am five years old.

My brother has just turned one. He toddles with the help of my mother’s hand. Normally, she would have dressed him in a swim diaper that swells like a balloon once he submerges in the kiddie pool. Today, Mom has put him in a pair of baby-blue swim trunks.

“I want to wear swim trunks,” I tell my mother.

“Swim trunks are for boys, honey. You get to wear a one-piece.” She is curt because my brother is crying. He has thrown his chupón onto the concrete and she is trying to find a clean one.

“But I want to wear swim trunks.”

“Sweetie, girls have to cover up. You can’t walk around bare chested. It’s just not right.” She is trying to be reasonable, but my brother has begun to remove the swim trunks altogether...

...I hate going to church. Dad never comes, so it is just me, my siblings, and my mother at St. Edward’s Cathedral. The Mass is entirely in Spanish. I do not speak Spanish. No one speaks Spanish to me...

Mom tried to teach us when we were little, but I am twelve now and I’ve learned to hate the sound of it. It is the sound of a priest who tells me that a woman’s hair is her glory. I...

...I am cramped into one of those chairs with a tiny desk that slides out, used for standardized tests. This is one of the big ones—a college-admissions test that will decide my future. But I am stuck on the very first page. Sex: Female or Male. I check “Female” with some remorse, but I still don’t have the words to describe my sadness. Race: White, Black, Latino, Pacific Islander, Asian. The instructions say to check one. Only one.

When I look in the mirror, I think I look white. That is, until I gaze into my dark-brown eyes, which are my mother’s and my Lita’s and her mother’s before her. I have my father’s pale skin and my mother’s round features. If I choose white, no one will bat an eye. I will only feel the guilt of erasing my mother and abuelos and the sacrifices they made for me to be here...

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